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Spouse Aggro!

I blog at www.spouseaggro.com, write for www.ablegamers.com, run www.mmovoices.ning.com and post all over the net. HOWDY!

Author: beauturkey

To all our fans, readers, listeners and friends..

Posted by beauturkey Thursday December 31 2009 at 8:43PM
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When I started blogging years ago, keeping a "tour diary" of my drumming exploits, I never dreamed I would be meeting with some of the same developers for the games I was playing at the time or would later play. I also never dreamed I would meet great people like the gents and ladies from ablegamers.com, people like Brent from Virginworlds or all the great people at SOE.

It started with the tour diaries, then moved on to covering Ryzom with a podcast and blog, then moved on to everything else. Since then we have been heard/read by thousands upon thousands of people that came from all corners of the planet. We have met developers, musicians, all these great people that work their butts off to bring us these games.

And it all happened because we just said "Why not?"

This community and hobby are so open to anyone that wants to try. It is a digital medium, so it is easy enough to pass distribute, and is only getting easier. Within weeks of concept, a potential developer can show potential players his concept art, demos, or pieces of music.

It is a wonderful time, and will only get better.

We want to thank everyone for listening to our podcasts (more coming soon, although we consider all these other projects like Ravenwood Radio, MMO Voices and guest hosting as part of that delivery of "Turkey Media") and for reading our posts, all tens of thousands of them. (And yes, I mean literally tens of thousands of postings spread all over the internet. I have 4500 on the VG forums alone.)

Without people paying attention to us, we would have nothing. The cruelest thing to do is to ignore us! :)

I have never claimed to be good at any of it, but I try.

We can't wait til the next year fills our imaginations with more games, more virtual worlds to visit, and more art to explore. I'll be honest, I will not post my goals for the year or make any resolutions because if there is one thing I have learned through all this, is that you never know what is going to come next.

See you in the new year!

Beau and Leala

Stop licking your fingers and answer your line, Cryptic.

Posted by beauturkey Thursday December 31 2009 at 1:53PM
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I imagine that at this point I should post the obligatory "What I look forward to in 2010" post, but being that I pretty much blog everyday, what's the use? I will cover it, either way. Also, the gaming world is strange and releases things at strange times, so I won't pretend that there are only a few major releases to look forward to this next year. The indie market is growing like crazy, as well as the F2P market, so let's just forget about "Hey look! More major developers release three games, and that's all that is going on in the world!"

Bleh. OK, OK, I pledge to cover all games, those included. :)

champs demo copy

Just two quick hairs I need to pull out of my chest:

1) Cryptic's new "Champions Demo": OK, it is VERY LIKELY that I am missing something here (turns out that I sort of did, but it was well hidden. I accidentally stumbled upon the answer in my Steam launcher of all places). I miss stuff all the time. So, help me out. First, go to this page and see if you can see where the instructions are for starting an account and for getting this demo time started. I don't see anything, either. So, uhm..I guess you download and it will tell you what to do? I downloaded it and had nothing but the usual sign-in page. I go and make an account, a new account, and still receive no information in my email or otherwise about what to do with this new "demo."

I even validate my email, which should allow me access to the official forums. Well, it allows me access, but not the ABILITY TO POST IN SAID FORUMS. So, I cannot post a request for help. I do a search and find nothing, and even in the "demo" announcement thread, there is nothing but the usual gripings of community members. (You know the ones: "This will somehow impact me! Although I will never play the demo or pass on the information!")

So, I decide to call the help line. I call it, within the posted times:

"We offer Live Support, Monday through Friday 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM PST US"

Called 7 times through out the day, no answer. So, I filled a ticket. I decided to try the chat, and some people in there decided to help me out. They asked if I had put in my Demo Key, but I hadn't received anything from any of the three places I downloaded it, or from Cryptic, that told me how to activate this game demo.

At this point, I was just fascinated to see how far this trip would take me. I get into the chat and ask a few questions. There was someone named "Cryptic_WishStone" so I started to ask about my problems. She asked if I received a key, and we went on and on:

 CLICK HERE TO READ THE CHAT TRANSCRIPT

So, she indicated to me that she didn’t know if they had the day off or not, that they left them alone pretty much. OK, I understand that she didn’t know another departments schedule, but it would have been nice to just fire them a call or to, Hell I don’t know…scream at them to see if they were open. Also, I re-stated to her what we had said, not to be rude, but to give her a chance for any changes. I just wanted to be very clear, because wackiness like this has got to be kept in very good records: CS might or might not be open. The website says they are. She did not know, because they left CS alone. Despite the fact that they were within the same block, and well within reach of a phone-line, there was no way to find out.

This is not me trying to say that this lady was a jerk, and I indicated that very clearly in the chat. And this is not about me being rude, being that all I did was ask a question and re-state the answer, to be very clear. And later in the chat someone accused me of my “tone” being off, which I told them that tone was hard to be taken through text, and that it didn’t matter anyway because a stranger on the internet that did NOT work for Cryptic mattered not to me. :)

Now, this is not about me being mad at Cryptic. Basically they have teamed with 3 different distributors to pass out their game. I understand they have nothing to do with the distributors practices.

This is about a few basic things:

1) When you post a “demo”, or anything at all to do with your game that involves downloading or the making of an account, place some very basic instructions with the page. Hell, just post “Download the client, verify your account.” Yes, this is obvious stuff in many cases. But, like the “learning curve” of EVE and other games, it;s not a learning curve if you simply hide the information.

2) When you post you customer support hours, be there within those hours. I called 7 times through out the day. Today is not a holiday, it is tomorrow. Even then, post whether or not you will be on holiday when you are. Again, I might have missed something, but post something obvious.

These are the small differences between someone playing game or not. Or, these are the small differences between someone trusting your company and forming a reputation as something kind of shady.

Will it hurt Cryptic in the long run? I don’t know, only if they perform this poorly all over. I have still not received a single email or contact from all 4 parties involved. Honestly, I don’t care if it will hurt Cryptic. I have never been one of these bloggers that posts about the latest lay-offs as though it will somehow make a difference in a market with literally hundreds of companies that make games.

Also, I don’t want it to hurt Cryptic. That’s not why I wrote this. I wrote this as an example of how things can be taken quite literally, and often is in the eyes of the consumer. If a retail chain can manage to physically post correct hours in all of their stores, and to indicate when and if they will be closed, then how is it harder to do this on a website where it could literally take seconds to update the page?

I see this a lot, websites that literally have content on them from a year ago that needs to be updated. It boggles my mind.

In my second “The Year in Review” blog entry:

This is an open letter to the nurse that works in my doctor office, to the old people that come into my store, and to the co-workers and friends that do this while they go about their lives:

You are the reason that the government has spent millions on flu research. You are the reason that millions, if not billions upon billions, of cash is lost to the abyss of the Sick Day every year, you are the reason that the entire world is paranoid about mass extinction due to deadly virus.

In other words, IF YOU LICK YOUR FINGERS TO COUNT OUT MONEY OR TO SEPARATE PAGES, YOU ARE THE REASON AND ARE SOLELY TO BLAME FOR THE APOCALYPSE.

This is not 1932, a time of “Here ya go, kid..let me pull you a fiver out of my wallet, go buy yourself something pretty, see?” This is the year 2010 now so….

….QUIT LICKING YOUR FINGERS. NEXT TIME YOU DO I AM GOING TO STICK MY FINGER UP MY NOSE AND PLACE IT SQUARELY ON YOUR LIP YOU SICK WEIRDO. QUIT SPREADING GERMS. QUIT MAKING ME USE GALLONS OF SOAP AND HAND SANITIZER. YOU DO NOT NEED TO SAVE THE .0000056 SECONDS OF TIME BY GAINING EXTRA GRIPPING ABILITY BY LICKING YOUR FINGERS. YOU ARE THE SOLE REASON THAT THE WORLD WILL END IN A MASS PILE OF FILTH-RIDDEN CORPSES.

Anyway, have a happy new year, and be safe while doing it. Do not drink and drive, seriously. But have fun!!!

Beau

Dogs meaningless lives and gaming as performance art.

Posted by beauturkey Wednesday December 30 2009 at 1:35PM
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It's eerie how much my dogs remind me of myself sometimes.

1) They do very well on a schedule. We wake up at about 6:30 am every morning, rain or shine or weekend. This is such a strong habit that I even woke up in Vegas at 6:30 am after a night of drinking until 3. Humans like the schedule, as do our bodies, as do our dogs.

2) They love to repeat the same activities. Walking every day is the least of it. If you want to train your dog, simply take some time and repeat the activity. The repeated activity will not only become learned, but needed. We humans get comfort from the repetition of activities; traditions, holidays...all comforting repetition.

3) They have meaningless lives. We have gone over this already, and it might be my age talking but the uselessness of life has struck me pretty hard. What good am I while millions of people starve around the world, or while I am not achieving all of the goals I want to? Dogs have their goals, and love to repeatedly go after those goals, but they do not hold much value outside of your home/neighborhood/play-group.

4) They have a love of play. Play, being the most pointless of all pointless activities, is something loved by dogs. While puppies need it for growing muscle development or for growing coordination, adult dogs (especially two like mine that live together every day) do not have as much a need for it outside of for my (and theirs) amusement. Of course, it is a form of exercise, but even dogs like mine that get their daily long walks still do it with all the passion of an obsessed raider.

betandroy

Of course, we can argue enough to find meaning in almost anything, but it is safe to say that anything that falls under the roof of "normal living" is pointless, meaningless and often useless. Only extraordinary living (such as helping the needy or aiding the sick) can be seen as needed, wanted or meaningful. Of course, some might see "meaningless" as having a negative connotation, but it does not. It just is.

Now that I have cemented these cheesy, goatee stroking Kerouac-reading silly thoughts into my head over the last year or two, I need to grapple with it and move on. In fact, I have moved on I realized, and moved on in a pretty healthy way.

Watching my dogs go through life has taught me to not only take chances, but to be brave and to face the unknown with their same grit. If my dogs hear a strange sound, they prick their ears and go towards it. If I am half-asleep and think that I hear some kind of odd noise, I look at the dogs (or even cats for that matter) and see what their reaction is. If they are still sound asleep, then it was nothing but my imagination.

Then my gaming came into play as something that I love to do, but not in ordinary ways, and not for the same (seemingly) "normal" reasons. When I read the line "...realize your life is meaningless, but live your life as art despite that fact.." I had me one of those nice moments in which a million pounds seemed to fall off my shoulders. I have been struggling with the purpose of gaming, with this hobby of mine that was not only physically unhealthy but sometimes a little stressful (try dealing with hate-stalkers. As tough as I am, I hate doing it.) Why am I gaming?

meandroy

But, I can realize the uselessness and pointless quality of my gaming hobby (also with my art and music hobbies) and enjoy the fact that there is no point to it, just like a couple of adult dogs playing. Yes, there are social bonds being formed, and there are bits of etiquette being learned here and there, but otherwise I feel as though gaming (especially for me at my age) is becoming not only useless but silly.

So why go on doing it?

Because, like my dogs, I can live my life as art. I can create whatever I want, when I want, and can do it how I want. I will not be worried about the end of my days, or about the consequences of enjoying myself, or about what might come after the play-time. I will realize it's meaninglessness and enjoy it because of that.

It is a nice thought, at least. I do feel much, much better about all of this time put into this hobby. After all, I do enjoy it. Strange how something so enjoyable can be attached to so many ideas and feelings that would seem to contradict the enjoyment!

Beau

The Overman, Nietzsche, and other pretentious stuff I am fascinated by.

Posted by beauturkey Tuesday December 29 2009 at 10:27AM
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Reading more from this neat little book called "World of Warcraft and Philosophy", me and Leala came across some interesting terms. Of course, I am not pretending to "get" what all of this means, being that I haven't read it all. Something like philosophy likes to come around just to bite itself in the ass (because that's, like, smart and thinky) so I will take this section of the book as it is and hope that later some armchair philosopher won't comment "Yer such a newb! You can't say that in philosophy!"

The term I am talking about is from Nietzsche: the Overman. According to the book: "..the Overman is to man what man is to ape." I am sure that you have guessed as soon as you read that that I consider myself an "overman," because I do in some ways. The difference is that I do not see an Overman as some kind of super-hero, using his altered awareness of the universe to solve crimes and to theorize his way to a fat bank account. I actually see an Overman, as explained by this small book, as someone that thinks he might be something more than he is, but still might be onto something.

Let me give this definition, out of Nietzsche's mouth/words/book:

"Let us therefor limit ourselves to the purification of our opinions and valuations and to the creation of our own new tables of what is good....We, however, want to become those we are - human beings who are new, unique, incomparable, who gives themselves laws, who create themselves."

My own Immersion Project rules could easily be seen as creating a set of laws for myself, but something isn't right. "Nietzsche's Overman, remember, sees the world as meaningless but creates his own values anyway, in the face of the uncaring universe." Going on in the book, it explains how Nietzsche sees art as something very valuable, to the point that your life should be seen as a work of art. To see the meaningless of life (and of the game) and to create something anyway is to become an Overman.

Nietzsche_Olde_06

OK, OK, hang on a second. I am not sure I am explaining this correctly. To be honest, let me just take my spin on it. I don't give a damn about Nietzsche if it means that I would have to put away my thoughts on the matter. I don't care what any rule or law says, I will always have my own take on it. Here it is, as laid out within the steps to becoming somehow more aware. (I think.):

1) Life is meaningless: I agree with this part. Well, I should say that it is if you choose it to be, in which case it will be. In the grand scale of things (according to some of philosophy) we are but "..tiny specks in the Universe". While I mostly agree, I think that this is not only ignorant to say but also very possibly wrong. If you are a "man or woman of science" and you automatically presume that you know that we are but specks in this universe, then you are just as (possibly) blind as the religious nut that thinks that we come only from the Heavens. I would rather say "Life is as meaningless as you make it." Also, for all we know, we might be the pinnacle of creation..the end result of everything. There might not be something else out there, we being the high end of the scale of life. Maybe life is meaningless to an ant, but what if we are the Gods?

2) Enter the games' "Magic Circle": The magic circle, from what I gather, is an acceptance of the rules and goals that the game has laid out for us. While I think that this "magic circle" might hold some value for many people, I am not one of those. There are goals lined out by the mechanics of the game (level up, gain treasure, become powerful) but just because other goals are not defined exactly by popular demand does not mean that they are not goals. Within real life, for example, people have all sorts of goals that have value.And within the game, there are numerous goals that are possible within the game. The game might be a box with limited boundaries, but with a little imagination you might find that those boundaries are plenty large enough for many goals of your own choosing.

3) Dissolve the "Magic Circle", realize that WoW itself (or whatever game) is meaningless: This is easy enough, and I have been doing this from day one within games. While I can definitely enjoy a game (obviously), I enjoy the game only because it is a game. If it were real life placing me squarely in front of danger every night, I would not be enjoying myself. Hell, I have nightmares about my DOGS becoming sick or injured, and I cannot stand it when I lose a house plant. WoW IS meaningless, as are all games. They do serve some purposes, but in the end the whole action is meaningless.

4) Play WoW despite of it's meaninglessness, affirm your existence within the game, create your toon as a work of art: "Work of Art?" I like that. No, not because I consider myself an artist, but because almost everything I do is built for a reaction, or to create something else. Nietzsche was very very fond of art and saw it as something almost holy from what I can tell, so I can see what he is talking about here. Lift your toon up as something that is a reaction to the meaninglessness of the game, or as something created as art despite the meaninglessness of the game.

5) Appreciate the analogy between WoW (or whatever game) and real life, affirm your existence in reality, create yourself as a work of art: This is what my Immersion Project has been trying to do for a long time. This book has given me some ways to explain the project better. I don't role-play to create a character that is other than myself, I create a character and role-play as though the character IS myself, minus a few of my "this world" hang-ups.

In example, I used a real life map for my Vanguard chapter of the Immersion Project. I found some great blank maps at high res, printed them out and would mark my way. Soon, I had a stack of 3 maps that had my writing (as well as writing from other people that knew where some areas were) all over them. I would use those maps and even disabled the in-game map so that, when I was lost, I would point my characters eyes to the sun or moon to judge what direction I was facing, would maybe look for a landmark or two, and would find my way. I would find myself, in real life, doing what my character would do. Or it could be seen as my character doing exactly what I would have done in that situation: consulting a real map with my writing on it. The game was based in a "time" or world that said that maps were reality, not GPS enabled cell-phones or the Internet.

This was a reaction to the complete boredom I felt when considering doing what is "expected" of my character, to achieve great things. Everyone else was off achieving great things, so why didn't I? Well, it was repetitious (like real life) and was the same activity that everyone else was doing. If I followed that same path (a ranger), then eventually I would be the exact same as any other ranger in the game. Even in a game like Fallen Earth or Ryzom, with their "Skill-based" open-ended character creation, players would often follow "templates" to achieve the maximum DPS or perfect heal spell combination.I would rather be weak and unique, rather than powerful and a carbon-copy.

So, I decided to make my own reality, one in which my character stopped leveling at level 32 (which he did, using a "Stop XP" spell that the game has) and in one that he did things that no other gamer or character in the game did.

I wanted the game to reflect my reality, the way I lived, and maybe that gave me some comfort when confronted with the "meaningless" of life?

Now, let me say that while I do believe life is basically meaningless, and that everything that you can dream of has probably been said or has been done before, I do not believe that you should give in to the meaninglessness and go on your way. In a way, I am envious of people that do this and do not mean in any way to come across as though I am proud of my inability to do the same ole' same ole', and I would love it if I had the single-mindedness I had when I was a 12 year old that did nothing literally all day but draw.If I had more of an ability to grind through things, I would admittedly get more things done in real life and in my gaming life.

Still, I am glad I have discovered this possibility: that I am simply trying to find these connections between all aspects of my life (my gaming, my writing, my art, my family) and trying to reflect that through a series of rules, in my gaming.

To sum up, my lack of staying power with any one project is depressing. I can't get much done, and that effects me in my real life. This is the number one reason I do not want to ever have children (and we have discussed it and never will), my inability to see things through. Recently, however, I have discovered that within the last few years I have actually continued to "keep this up", this blogging, gaming, podcasting...this existence within these virtual worlds. But I have done it using my own way and my own set of rules. This gives me hope that someday what I do will have some impact on the world, and maybe in a very long stretch of the imagination, this will one day morph into a way to actually help people.

So, have I achieved "Overman" status? I would like to say YES, but to be honest it is not something I would claim proudly. Just like the diner scene in Pulp Fiction, when Vincent is talking to Jules about Jules' recent decision to "walk the Earth," Vincent says:

"No, Jules. You decided to be a bum."

But, I like the part of the book that says that many people get stuck on any step of this realization. Many get stuck on the "Realize life is meaningless" part, and get stuck wallowing in nihilism, without ever finding meaning in anything. I am pretty close to that sometimes, but I believe it's just some kind of nerd equivalent of a mid-life crisis. Within the last few years (and especially the last year) I have become much more concerned about my mortality and about the fact that, when I go, it is possible that I made no difference in anyone's life other than my family and loved ones.That is so out of character for me, I am always the one that lived life to the fullest since I was a child. I am always the last one to get down about anything, and I have always done what I wanted and found meaning in so much.

But maybe the slight depression doesn't come from thinking that everything is meaningless, but from the fact that I am not doing enough despite that fact, that I could always do more that would show my life as something unique in the end.

And I hope to not offend anyone here, but I think that many people (I am not saying all before you comment! lol) when confronted with this meaninglessness of life, decide to let life dictate the meaning to them. They have children, pursue a career that have settled for, or give in to the tedious things.

So maybe this Immersion Project, and this last 2 years have been my attempt to find meaning in the meaninglessness, or to at least tell the meaninglessness to fuck off.

Ugh...who knows. Maybe I should go grab a latte and stroke my goatee down at the Starbucks. (I keed I keed.)

Beau

Characters in your book: The Guild ***hole

Posted by beauturkey Sunday December 27 2009 at 11:17AM
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Recently, Leala brought home a copy of "World of Warcraft and Philosophy", a book that connects to and uses World of Warcraft as an example to explain philosophy. I have always been interested in philosophy, as well as basic psychology, but have always felt a little embarrassed about the interest. Let's be honest here: it can be a pretty pretentious and silly pursuit.

But, the book is well-written and I am surprised at how much I follow certain standard examples in the book, and how many people I know follow certain standard examples. After all, this stuff is based on hundreds (thousands in some cases?) of years of human study. It's not rocket science, but well-documented science. Still, I am weary of using the terms from the book, as I am not reading it straight through, and I do not want to just copy and paste what the author worked hard on writing. Also I feel a little silly using terms that I rarely would outside of my discussions with Leala.

So, I am going to just use whatever words I want. There is a part in the book that talks about a person that makes up their own rules, for good or bad, and I am definitely one of them.

In this blog I want to actually talk about something that, as far as I remember, has not been covered by the book yet. I am talking about certain "characters" in your book. Your "book" is basically your life and how you see it, and these "characters" can be the post-man with his funny moustache and silly sense of humor, your co-worker with her habit of sneezing funny, or whatever other characteristics or backgrounds you have imposed on or noticed that come from the other people in your life. For example, no one knows my wife better than me, and vice-versa, but she is still a series of memories, stories and presumptions that make up a (very strong) character in my "book."

the_jerk



When people take on these characters, and when other people form these people as these type of characters in their books, it can be obvious as to what kind of character they are or have become to other people. When you log into your favorite MMO, and if you are part of a guild, then I am sure that you have certain characters in your guild. After all, usually the most you get to physically "see" of the person is their voice on Vent or their picture, so you are truly formulating (their representation in your "book") all sorts of characteristics about that person. Sometimes, certain characters pick up on these characteristics that you have given ("...you're the funniest guy in the guild" ) them and they use them to form those actual characteristics in deeper ways or to strengthen those characteristics that you picked up on.

In other words, the guild ***hole starts to notice that he is the guild ***hole according to other players, and decides to run with it.

My wife's guild is truly fascinating to watch from outside. While I carry a great amount of power in the guild (I can invite in or kick out anyone I want, I have access to everything in the guild bank) I rarely log in or rarely subscribe to her game. Still, I get to hear all the stories and all of the drama that happens in this once "social" guild. To me, the turning point came when they decided to start raiding, even though it was on a small scale.

Of course, many of you could see this as another attempt by me to slam raiding, but I never slam raiding. I slam players that get obsessed with raiding (or, for the record, any other activity.)

They are now up to 2 days only of raiding, but they have done well. They are usually very organized and rarely have any "loot drama." Recently, however, some players have wanted to raid more (as is usually the case with raiding, players start to see it as the only activity to do) and it started to create stresses in the guild. On the guild forums, there is almost always a discussion going on about raiding, and in almost every discussion there is almost always a certain player that gives his two cents. His two cents are usually well-written and thought out, but almost always full of p*** and vinegar.

His arguments are always worded very carefully, though, always leaving a backdoor in case anyone gets offended. He always leaves himself a sentence or two that would be the equivalent of "Don't get me wrong, I love the guy.." which are verbal waivers that he makes anyone sign that decides to read one of his posts. This way, if someone takes offense, he get drop back a few feet and say "Didn't you notice that I said ______ here? See? I didn't mean anything by all that p***ing and moaning!"

To the other players in the guild, he has not only become this character, this p***ed off character, but he has started to craft it and to take on more and more of those characteristics. There is almost some subtle "body language" that is passed on through their texts that tells him "You are the guild ***hole" like the chemical communications that are passed through communal trees when bugs attack one of their own.

It becomes a habit, next. Not only is logging in becoming a habit, but acting a certain way becomes a habit. Dramatic people are expected to be dramatic and they are. Natural leaders are expected to lead, and even without huge amounts of ability they will try to lead. Like smoking, the habits become even more ingrained on the individual when they are done at certain key times every day: logging in after work around 7 pm. Logging in to the forums at lunch at 12:30 pm. Logging off at 11:30 PM every evening. The game becomes a habit, and so does taking on these characteristics.

And even the guild ***hole "enjoys" these characteristics. There have been studies to prove that, in certain types of abusive relationships, the abused actually grow so used to the abuse and drama that they actually see it as part of their day. It's not as though they "enjoy" it, but that they become so used to it that it begins to give their life a meaning, a purpose, or gives them a characteristic.

But recently, the guild ***hole pushed once again. Granted, no one in the guild ever calls names. That is one of the golden rules, and will get you immediate banning and ignoring, but he just pulled another one of his "I will argue with anything at all that you say. I mean anything."

I decided enough was enough, and that the relationship (even one as casual as this online guild friendship) was requiring too much energy and was slowly giving him more and more power as "the guild ***hole."

I logged in and booted his argumentative a** from the guild.

What followed was a series of pleading and dramatics coming from him and some of his friends in the guild, and I think I know why.

The drama that followed came from, again, characters that were known to be dramatic. This is not a bad characteristic, if used properly, but it can quickly become just as disruptive as the guild ***hole. What happened, I believe, is that throughout his history in the guild and through all the negative posts he made and snide remarks he made, he grew so used to being that character that it became a habit. A habit, especially one formed so strongly (there wasn't a raid this guy missed and he probably played every night) is not hard to break because it is a good or bad habit, or because it does anything negative or positive for you, but because it was becoming the form that this guy followed. It was something that he relied on to tell him "...this is how I react."

I destroyed that character within about 4 pushes of buttons, a character that he had worked hard on creating for maybe a year or more.

This is why ignoring forum trolls/comment trolls works so well. Not only are you no longer aware of them and no longer forming their character in your book, but the character is no longer being formed for them, and cannot gain any more power in their life. When locked away from the area that they behave this way in (the forum, the blog, the guild) the might even see their behavior as toxic and work to change it or to at least form a different behavior.

For example, there is man that has followed me from the official Vanguard forums all the way to my official blog to other areas that I post in. He continues to change his account once one gets banned, just so he can either give my posts a negative rating or to leave some snide remark in the comments section. He has emailed me several times to tell me that he does this, and despite being banned already, he has found ways to get around bans (not hard to do.)

The interesting thing about this character is that I have grown to love his comments/emails/posts. He has become very unstable, giving me positive comments occasionally, only to follow with the worst comment I have ever read, maybe within the period of a day or two. He continues to do this even though I do not respond to him at all, and he even has begun to tell me that he works for the industry and that he has seen me and followed me in person at industry events.

Now, many might think that this is a call for alarm. And yes, I keep my ears perked for any signs that it is going too far. But he seems to value my allowing him to create this character for himself, he seems to need to think that I am not only valuing his input, but actually taking it to heart. Even within the span of one email, he will switch from hateful to hopeful for me:

"VERY apparent your not a christian. Also very apparent your not a writer either. I think I'll get you a box of kleenex for christmas, you have been picking that nose for some time now...

I'd wish you a merry christmas, but apparently thats meaningless to you. "

I take from this letter that he is a Christian, or at least I figure that even he would know that he cannot scold me for not being a Christian while he is not. Then, he switches to a third-grade insult about an icon I use on the website, one in which I am fingering my nose. This surprised me, but then again it surprises me anytime someone insults something that is so obviously...insult-able.

Then, look at that last sentence. "I'd wish you a merry christmas". Funny again, being that he scolds me for not being a Christian, yet doesn't capitalize "Christmas" like any Christian would. But look at what he is wishing: to send me warm regards. He has a need for me to see him as a source of something good or bad, be it opinions or something else, but still a source. He needs me to think about him. The ***hole cannot exist without someone to be an ***hole to. Interestingly, as well, most ***hole posts or emails start with a subject line. For example, the subject line of the above email was "Yeah, it's apparent..." meaning that he took the time, for my benefit, to fill out a subject line so I would know what to expect within the email. Otherwise, he could have just left it with a single dot ( . ) in the subject line, or at least put "File under: ***hole/Obsessed ***hole." When you send a bomb to the post office, do you put on the package "Warning: bomb inside"? This shows me that the event or action of sending me a hateful email is not filled with actual malice, but from a habit that is formed from a need for something to tell this fellow how to behave. This man needs to have this identity, despite how little or much the behavior effects his life.

While I have tried to get him banned several times, and succeeded at least twice, I have collected his emails, comments and posts and will probably hold on to them for some time. They go on and on, and span everything from hate to love for me. And despite me wanting to simply ignore the fellow, I cannot in all cases. But over the last year his insane thoughts have become so fascinating (I mean that in the least pretentious way possible) that I look forward to them. It reminds me of asking one of my nieces or nephew's a question like "How much does a car cost?" just so I can receive some hilarious and surreal answer that actually speaks a lot to how the child sees the world.

These characters, these online "***hole" characters are relatively new if you ask me. The Internet in it's popular form is something very new. There are children that have now grown up with it, forming habits based around it, and even learning social behaviors from it. This can be good in some cases (meeting all sorts of people from all over the world, broadening the boundaries of the child) and very, very bad in some cases (when someone is not physically in the room, you can treat them however you want.)

In a way, I enjoy having them around. I enjoy all types of characters. But, I cannot allow them to go on when they begin to become toxic to more people than not. Even if they are starting to infect one other person, it is probably time to shut them down. The easiest way to do this, of course, is to ignore them and to simply get rid of them. The funny thing about "***hole" groups, guilds or groupings of players that play massive pranks or "grief" other players is that without the Internet, without that ability to be physically removed from other people, they are disarmed quickly. Some of them form entire social lives around the Internet, or form their characters based solely on their behavior online. Taking that away from some of them (someone like the man that continues to follow me around) would possibly be very harmful to their ego or to their sense of self. Watch a heavy smoker try to quit, and you would have some idea as to how they would react if you turned off their electricity.

It's sad, in some ways, but also a sign of the times. The Internet will become just as much a haven for horrible people as it will a tool for wonderful social interactions.

Beau

Some Christmas thoughts, as our plans are torn down..

Posted by beauturkey Thursday December 24 2009 at 11:11AM
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First of all, let me make it clear that I am not a Christian by any means. I am not really anything, being that I believe that any of them could be right or wrong, for all I know.

Other than that, I like traditions. They can be mostly fun, earmarks on our time, representations of time passing and of our growth. For that same reason they can be a little bittersweet, reminders of times passed or of time drawing even closer to the end. (Damn. Debbie Downer?) But that's how, I think, they are supposed to be.

We are always supposed to be aware of our good fortunes. Now, don't get me wrong, me and Leala are not rich and don't stand to inherit millions of dollars. We have to work hard to maintain our life-style of gaming, travel and experiencing all we can. We have had nothing handed to us, Leala especially, so we are proud to say that we make our own decisions and spend our money how we want.

But we never forget that we could have it so much worse. In fact, it's something that bothers me to no end. It's probably the reason why, over the last year of increased activity and involvement around here, I have begun to feel a little...strange...when dealing with some gamers.

With the recent Vanguard announcement, I would think that at least a handful of the participants in the forum threads would have expressed some concern for the developers that (at least I am predicting) might be worried about their jobs. I saw none of that, but plenty of extremely mopey posts about not receiving a certain promised patch, or not being able to now experience hours and hours of grinding out time in a new dungeon.

The whole experience has left me really, really disliking some aspects of this community.

Now, I know that almost any argument about entertainment can be stopped by one side simply saying "It's just a game, there are starving children in the world, right now, and there are animals being tortured..."

But see, that's the truth. It is just a game.

The reason I enjoy gaming is because it let's me explore someone elses art, some new creation dreamed up by someone other than me. I spend enough time writing my own stories and making my own art, so I enjoy getting inspired by someone else. And while I, of all people, know the value of being immersed in a game, it never trumps the fact that I exist in a real world with more real issues than any video game world can ever have.

In other words, I don't use gaming for an escape, I use it as a celebration of creativity, story-telling, and of community.

While I do know people that cannot physically leave their room or their very bed, and how important gaming is to those people, I am also witness to how balanced many of those gamers are. They are very aware of what they are escaping from.

So, I don't know. Maybe I am feeling a little down-ish because we can't go see the family because of snow and ice. Then again, I am happy that we are going to have a white Christmas!

I hope on this holiday, whatever holiday or tradition you partake in, that you remember how lucky you might be. And next time you hear one of your favorite games announce changes that might mean the release of some of the workforce, try to forget your promised dungeon for one day.

After all, it is just a game.

We hope all of our readers, and all of the members of MMOvoices, and all of our friends in the industry and in the fan-base have a wonderful, safe holiday. Log into some games and enjoy the virtual holiday decorations, say hi to your guildies that might be all over the globe, and enjoy the fact that technology has allowed us all to get to know each other.

Beau and Leala

So, who IS to blame for the recent Vanguard announcement?

Posted by beauturkey Tuesday December 22 2009 at 6:02PM
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In the recent announcement on the official Vanguard forums, Lead Developer Silius basically said "We are sorry, but no more new raid content, the world is going to end...blah blah..server merges.."

Of course, everyone is posting their usual.

And while I think most of my readers would know this already, let me explain to you where the blame rests. At least, of course, in my humble opinion. A quick short history, though, about my involvement with the game: I started hosting the Voyages of Vanguard podcast almost 2 years ago. I have posted about 4500 posts on the official forums. I was voted "Player of the Year" and have interviewed the development staff quite a few times. While I stopped doing a VG specific show/blog a long time ago, I have noticed that I am still one of the only bloggers/podcasters that still talks about the game with any positive light.

Are there other people in the community that shine positive light on the game? Of course. I just don't know of too many.They can talk about themselves on their blog.

This is not an attempt to say that I am "somebody", being that in this community there are no "anybodies" at all (the most famous representative of us is that girl from the Guild. C'mon bloggers.) but this is simply an attempt to point my finger squarely at certain members of the community and laugh. OK, wait, I mean to mock. OK OK I mean to blame. That's right, to blame.


First of all, I am aware of how SOE has ignored Vanguard. Well, how they have ignored it in some ways after sinking millions of dollars into it. They took a chance and it didn't grow out of being a small game. That's enough for any developer. But, SOE has allowed the servers to go on as well as the staff (although knocking them down to very small numbers) which, again, is enough. No re-announcements or re-releases would do much of anything. Even with a flood of new players, there is just a certain type of player that will stick around a game that has the issues, complexities and unique game-play that VG does.

Ryzom has the same issue. It's never going to be bigger than a few servers. But, the new developers seem to know this. So do the developers of Fallen Earth and Darkfall. But, that small physical size of their game does not stop them from working wonderfully with what they have. They are the types to grab the blank white box and to add a use for it everyday, while other developers take the blank white box, shrug and go "put some pencils in it I guess?"

VG needs to tighten up, be smaller. Thanks to SOE they are going to be that. While I would hate for anyone to lose their job, the game needs to be streamlined. And now, SOE has made sure that it does that or does the way of MxO or Tabula Rasa. For the record, I am in no way ignoring the fact that SOE does not want to do more with the game. I am simply acknowledging, without spite or malice, that they did many things for the game even if it isn't cool to say so.

And in those games where the developers acknowledge that growth is only going be so much, the community seems to pick up on the vibe. They seem to enjoy themselves a bit more. The Vanguard community, since the very beginning of my involvement, has for the most part been nothing but a bunch of whining, complaining and bitching sad-sack gamers that have done absolutely nothing for the game but log into it. Let me tell you this, and this holds true especially in this age of a million MMO's and a million choices: just logging in is not enough for smaller games. It is not. Throw on the constant whiny Emo posts that absolutely FILL the official forums (as well as sad forums like Silky Venom) and smirky developer jokes, and you have a community that (mostly, I am not talking about the amazing community members that there are. They know who they are.) does absolutely nothing in a situation that completely needs positive community representation.

I'm so sick of gamers that think that they are somehow entitled to their favorite type of game-play in their favorite game. Not only that, but I am so sick of theory-crafting Hardcore players that do nothing but suck the very life out of the game. I am so glad to see that Blizzard has (very wisely) decided to take the "hardcore" (meaning too much time spent in a video game to be healthy) out of their raids. I am in love with the fact that the days of "elite" attitudes (as though there is something to brag about spending 8 hours a night for 6 months in a game) are going..going...gone. May Blizzards example lead the way.

And let's hope that this recent announcement spells the end of these same attitudes in Vanguard. Let it get down to it's 2 servers (Fallen Earth is ONE. Two servers will be just fine for VG.) and let the dev staff stop working on content for level 55 plus. All the work taken to build, code and host a series of events as in Pantheon could easily fill out several incredible quest lines, some live events...hell, maybe a new Lore website?

I'm tired of the community (the bulk of, I should say) in VG thinking that since they pay 15 dollars a month that SOE is going to give them everything they want. If they wanted the game to succeed, they should have left the seclusion of the SAME RAID NIGHT AFTER NIGHT AFTER NIGHT and maybe, I don't know, spread the word a bit? Hosted a live event, host a blog or podcast...SOMETHING.

So yeh, I blame SOE. That's a given. But that's like blaming Target for wanting to sell designer sheets. It's what companies do, and SOE does other things that are freakin' brilliant.

But coming up very close behind is the blame for the members of the community that have literally done nothing but make smart ass remarks every time a dev posted, played a game that they bitched and moaned about instead of leaving, and been probably one of the sourest bunch of nerds I have ever come across. The recent announcement, and the eventual closing of VG can be squarely placed on the immature gamers that could not simply accept what many of us grown-ups learned long ago:

Sometimes, companies don't do exactly how you want them to. You either whine about it like a child, leave the products of the company behind, or accept it and try to make the situation better by shining light on the killer products that you DO enjoy.


Beau

Ah, more DAoC...nostalgia? And my award for MMO Sound!

Posted by beauturkey Monday December 21 2009 at 8:31PM
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You know, here I sit typing on this 3 year old machine. I love this old tower, but I will be honest and say that if I get a new one I will NOT be firing this one up anymore. Still, there's something nostalgic about it, and playing games on it.

Lately, it's been giving me fits so I decided to take out one of the gigs of ram that seems faulty (it only holds 2 gigs.) That seems to have worked, at least for now. Being down to 1 gig (until this weekend) made me have to switch to playing a game for the next few nights that doesn't hog every PC resource I have. I went straight to DAoC.

I can't explain it, and a lot of people seemed to take it the wrong way last time I talked about it, but the bad design in some parts of the game and the out-dated game-play mechanics are really, really refreshing right now. It's not as though I haven't played those "older" games. Anyone that knows me knows that I started out in Ultima and have played everything in between. And I mean everything. They do all blur together at times, though.

But I left those days of camping for 30 seconds before log out. I left 'em years ago and moved onto games like Spellborn, Fallen Earth, EQ2, WoW, Mabinogi and a slew of F2P games. I play everything, but not too many games that fall into the "old games I used to play" category anymore.

Still, something about having to salvage this old machine one more time, and having to find a game that can run on it, reminds me of those old days of discovery and of doing things...differently. Not that I enjoy some of the old bloated ways anymore, because I don't when given the choice. But I like the fact that this 7 year old game (7 right?) has developed years of character. I'm barely into it, still on the newbie island area, and I am really enjoying how slow everything is going.

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Now, to continue with my "If I could Build an MMO, What Parts of What Games Would I Use?" segments. Last time I talked about graphics. This time I want to give a shout-out to sound. Sound is so important in these games that without good sound your game-play can actually suffer. If the sounds are off by a bit, or if they don't feel accurate, the game feels clunkier than it should. In the world of MMO's, lag and ping are the enemies. If your sound fires weird, it can definitely feel as though you are lagging. Or, at least, that you are barely doing anything to the enemy.

Since I returned to EQ2 for a month, I am really taking my time. This entire time I have been working on a single quest, the new world event one that takes you around the world looking for a special artifact. (I forget names, but the guy in front of the ruined tower in Freeport gives the quest to you.)

I have done a small part of it each night, and in between I am taking my time to look around, role-play and to discover neat little things. EQ2 is a master of details, and gives you a million distractions.

I remember the first time I walked down into a cellar to craft something. This is going to sound strange, but the sound was so good and immersive that I thought I could smell the place! It immediately pulled me into the area, with the strange music that sounded like a crafting song should sound and the incredible sounds of the actual crafting. Click the link to watch the video below to see what I mean, and keep in mind this is the standard music and cooking sounds:

Click here to watch the EQ2 crafting video.

I love that stuff. It really does add so much to the experience. I'll be honest and say that I have never really enjoyed crafting that much, but I loved  crafting in EQ2 because of just the feeling of being in the crafting halls.

So, that would be the game I would pull from for sound in my MMO if I were to build it.

Amazing stuff, EQ2.

Beau

Hey Avatar! Ryzom called and...

Posted by beauturkey Sunday December 20 2009 at 6:32PM
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OK, OK I think you know where I would go with that title. Still, the joke holds some truth. I just kept thinking "Ryzom" while I watched this bloated movie. Granted, Avatar might have come before in production for all I know, but that doesn't it stop it from being a silly, over-the-top copycat of so many things from the past 20 years of film-making and science fiction.

Still, it was fun, but enough to warrant 50 gazillion dollars? Who knows. I love the fact that someone Twittered the other day "Why didn't James Cameron just spend the hundreds of millions of dollars on actually saving the rainforest?" I lol'ed.

2936705646_383816e7fe

The movie does represent what I hate about MMO's. Granted, there isn't much that I hate about MMO's but what there is was all over Avatar.

1) Unoriginal art design: Space Marines? AGAIN? Stop with the space marines. Stop with heavy armor wearing, scar-having, "hooyah!" type guys that stomp around in robot armor, PLEASE. It stopped being cool when I stopped playing Warhammer 40k 20 years ago. It stopped being cool right after Aliens did it better. The vehicle design ripped right out of Aliens, from the drop ships to the landing vehicle. Here's the main thing for me: in real life we are getting really damn close to actually using real-life lasers on the battlefield. Not only that, but combat is becoming more and more UN-manned in todays war. And yet we are to believe that in the future they not only have spacecraft, the ability to clone humanoids and to control them, but the need for BULLETS and MACHINE GUNS?

2) The throw away story: Out of those hundreds of millions, they couldn't afford a writer? Do I really need to go over this one? It bores me just to write about how poor the writing was. I will guarantee you that the director and the actors all knew "This movie will be a big-budget sci-fi special effects thrill! People will not give a crap about a story. Just throw one together." And you know what? They were right. But could you imagine if they had actually written a story?

Oh well, they got me and my wife's 20 bucks.

But the few moments of "OoooOOoo!" were the best in the movie, and remind me of those moments in MMO's. It's no wonder players that repeat content over and over and over (raiding, grinding) are so angry. They are performing a job, a boring "OooOOo"-less job. It's hard for a developer, writer, or director to come up with non-stop "OooOO!" moments I am sure, but dismissing story or original art design to stay on par with the lack of wonder in your game is no solution.

Like I said, there isn't much I hate about an MMO, and it's rare that I really hate an MMO.

But godamn, this movie sucked.

Beau

Camping out in the Wasteland.

Posted by beauturkey Saturday December 19 2009 at 7:03PM
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So the new social patch was put into play in the fantastic new MMO "Fallen Earth." Not only that, but they released a trial client as well! If you haven't played this game yet, do so. NOW. I attacked the "construction" skill tree with tons of excitement and soon enough I could build a basic pup tent and a campfire:

firstcamp

Both items give you a buff, but whichever buff is higher rules out the other one. You can also add firing ranges and practice dummies that will also give you buffs geared towards your particular talents, and I have heard that you can attract an NPC to your camp somehow, and that NPC will trade with you! To me, it seems like a perfect chance to park near a clump of fat mobs while selling off the goods as you get them!

Finding a "flat spot" to put the camp was a little annoying, and the short time it is up for (30 minutes) needs to be longer. Also, the buffs aren't that remarkable, but are nice.

Personally, I want to figure out how to get NPC's to come to the spot and I hope that the camps become much better as you get better at making them. They might be neat little things now, but I am not sure their allure will last if they are useless to non-RP'ers.

Fantastic stuff, still.

I am slowly spending most of my time in game by crafting. I love love love how you can run around the landscape, picking up junk and pulling up weeds, stacking all the stuff up in your horse and in your pack. After each load I run back to the bank and drop it all off. Whenever I run out of space everywhere, I look at what I have and start crafting. I have made myself the perfect look (for right now) by just picking out the recipe, finding the goods and making the items. I now look differently than pictured above.

I love the fact that crafting is, if you want it to be, the bulk of the game so far. Combat is fun, but the true shine comes from the games ability to give you a million things to search for, put together and to use.

Anyway, I'm off until tomorrow. I just came from Ravenwood Radio's live event, then I have a WoW Christmas party tomorrow. I will end up playing more this weekend, in around 7-10 games, than I have been able to in a long time. Normally I only play about 2 hours a days, maybe.

Tomorrow we are going to watch Avatar and doing some Xmas shopping.

I'm telling you, this is the greatest time to be a nerd.

Beau

Why EVE is not a PvP game.

Posted by beauturkey Thursday December 17 2009 at 8:20PM
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One of the most irritating things I come across in gaming is the relative ease in which players accept a game and a few of it's goals as a rule of the game, or as the definition of a game. In example:

Raiding, by many, is considered to be THE game. Before raiding, you are doing nothing but preparing for raiding.

Role-play is the sole purpose of the game, some think, being that the very act of logging in is an act of role-play.

One of my favorite examples, one that fired off one of those fun Twitter arguments done in 140-word sections, (but great fun because I know so many damn smart people! :)  ) is that "EVE is a PvP game." Not only is EVE not a PvP game, but PvP can be one of the smallest parts of the game.

First of all, the base of the game is the PvE environment. Picture EVE as a machine, a giant wheel turning with gears and motion. Many seem to think that EVE is somehow a perpetual motion machine, a series of gears and pulleys that create it's own energy, just to keep running some more. Of course, like a perpetual motion machine, a player-fueled-only game is impossible. EVE players do not provide the energy to drive the machine. Without the environment and interacting with it, the game would grind to a halt within a short amount of time. There must be a stream of NPC missions, loot, and cash flowing into the game or the game would just stop. The PvE provides the energy that the machine needs to turn. The players play within the machine.

If you had (JUST an example, this is just a random number) let's say 1 trillion ISK, and suddenly asteroids did indeed become limited in number, (they are unlimited right now) and all of the NPC ships stayed dead when killed, (there are endless numbers of NPC's)  and all the interactions with the PvE environment stopped, the game would die. That 1 trillion would quickly get ferreted away by a few huge corps, and nothing else would happen. The asteroids would be mined until they were all gone, and ISK would disappear. There can be no "player driven economy" with only players participating. Even the small amount that NPC's put into the economy, with all their missions and buying of goods, equal enough energy to keep the machine going.

Here is a simple question: if you magically took away PvP, or made PvP impossible (like all of space became non-pvp enabled), would EVE stop being able to be played and enjoyed?

The answer would be no. Not only that, but there would be many players (off in their missions, the ones that sit in their stations and rarely leave like my podcasting friend's do) that would probably never even know. Would it become a different game? Yes. But, instead of pirates you would have NPC ships camping you. Instead of other players attacking you, you could have spawned ships. The game can live (and does in many areas) without any influence from PvP.

Now, if you took away the endless NPC drops and all that the environment gives a player, could the game be played and enjoyed? The fruits of mining, for example, (the very basis for most of the game, the stuff that everything is made of) does not come from players. It comes from the environment and players interacting with it.

The answer would be no. There would be no EVE. The perpetual motion machine would grind to a halt, losing it's energy to the frictions of PvP and player/player interaction. Without that supply of energy (in whatever amount) from the environment and the interactions with it, there would be nothing.

This is not an attempt to say "haha! Without the game there would be no game!"

This is simply an attempt to say that calling EVE a "PvP game", indicating that PvP is the sole/majority game-play that players participate in, is not only false but impossible. The bulk of the time in your ship is an interaction with the environment. In fact, take away using "PvE" as the other way to describe EVE besides "PvP." It would be more accurately described as PIE, or Players Interacting with the Environment. Versus is referring to players locked in combat with NPC's, which is as small of a part of the game as PvP.

Using "PvP game" to describe any game out right now discounts all the other interactions and activities that have absolutely nothing to do with PvP.

In an example, a blogging friend of mine mis-understood my statement that "the death penalty in Darkfall was meaningless." He went on to to confess that my statement was true when he considered that "glory", or the virtual defeat of my enemies (just to be rezzed again to start the cycle over again) was not one of my goals, not important, and not meaningful. (I am not saying it had no meaning for him, though.)

In EVE, PvP is pretty much meaningless. Nothing happens when you die. Can something happen? Yes. But many things can happen in these games, many things that have nothing to do with Player versus Player, that can be meaningful. When I die in EVE, I get paid insurance and lose nothing that I cannot replace. My character isn't hurt, and I resurrect just to do it again. And, after all, even if I lost all my skill points and were reduced to a penniless pod, ISK is endless. Why? Not thanks to players, but thanks to the environment. I can raise my nation once again, even after being brought to the lowest point. Thanks to that energy coming from the environment.

Now, if I accidentally hit my delete key and destroy a character I have raised for 5 years, I might feel bit of regret at that.

Point is, just because something can happen (like being effected by PvP) does not mean that the game is ruled by that possibility. I would not call EVE an "accidental deletion of your character game" so why should I call it a "PvP game"?

To any of you EVE vets reading this: you, of all people, know that a player can easily avoid PvP in EVE. That's what makes EVE a successful "hardcore" game with a ton of players and PvP-featuring games like Darkfall or WAR barely live on two or four servers. Giving players that choice (to be a non-pvp'er) is a very smart thing to do. Obviously it worked for EVE. Again, I will bet good money that most players spend most of their time out of PvP.

So why do you refer to it as a "PvP game?"

Not only is it selling EVE short, with all it's glorious lore and role-play potential, but it sells the player-base short. I would like to think that many players in EVE are pretty smart, creative people. Smart creative people have many goals in a game like EVE, and many of those goals have nothing to do with, or are effected by, or effect, PvP. If  a player wants to follow some made-up set of rules, such as "if you don't PvP, you're not playing", that's fine. But I choose to take a "sandbox" like EVE and play how I want.

In fact, from now on, I am going to refer to EVE as a "Player Versus Mining" game, being that mining and the act of gathering materials, is more of an integral part of EVE than PvP or PvE. Does PvP effect some areas of the game? Of course. But it is not the all-powerful force in the game by far. The all-powerful force in any game will always stem from the environment and it's fuel for the (almost) perpetual machine.

Beau

Dark Age of Camelot: Take Two

Posted by beauturkey Wednesday December 16 2009 at 7:20PM
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I'll be honest, I wrote a first draft of this blog post that was not much more than pointing out that many of the flaws in DAoC and other "pre-WoW" games are responsible for the current environment that many of those "old-school" players gripe about that exists now.

You know the stuff: "Games are too easy  now!" "WoW has ruined the market!" "It's all easy mode vanilla land!"

Note that most of these constant gripings are coming from WoW players, or players that played WoW pretty much religiously for YEARS. They had their fun with it, or are still having their fun with it, but it's as though a NEW gaming sub-hobby has come out of the WoW community: constantly hating your hobby.

But, I decided that that old point was detracting from the fun I have been having in DAoC, namely because of the difficulties that the game has. I don't mean difficult as in hard to do, I mean difficult as in trying to figure out how the hell to do something really basic. Hiding information from your players, just for the record, is not a learning curve. But something about having to manually type out a location to cast your spell on is kind of fun. And although the Immersion Rules forbid me from using world chats, the help channel is not off-limits. (As long as the help requested is not like "Someone help me kill this mob?")

I've been enjoying the community, and enjoying (I can't believe I am saying this) stumbling through bad fonts, horrible descriptions and basic controls.

The flight path, for example. You buy the "ticket." Fine, did that. NOW what? Turns out you have to drag and drop it back onto the NPC you bought it from, then you get to fly. Now, that doesn't seem so complicated, but when you are brand new to the game and used to any and all flight paths being, you know, explained better, then you can see how mind-boggling it is to have to try and figure out "Oh! I buy the ticket, and then give it back to the guy!" There is no hint whatsoever that tells you "drag it to the guy." Same with casting a spell. Well, certain kind of spells. The community, again, was the only source of information.

Still, I've been enjoying these...puzzles...in the game. I haven't stepped too far out of the newbie experience, and already I am puzzled as to where all these guides or clues might be. But, being puzzled doesn't mean that I am not enjoying being puzzled!

I died for the first time today, and had no idea what to do. I couldn't get the help chat back (for some reason) and could not find a button for "resurrect" or "release." All that I saw was a "time until release" countdown. So, I just typed /release (I guessed) and off I went without knowing what the punishment for dying was.

Again, this is kind of fun, but I am weird like that. I like having to stumble around until you can figure out how to do things. I like having to figure out basic things like "Open the item, then go to info, THEN drag the items ability to your bar, THEN you can use it." It makes for a strangely organic experience.

Graphically, the game holds up very well. I think they did a graphics update in '05, soon after I stopped playing. I do NOT remember the game looking like it does. It looks actually quite nice, especially at night. (Why do all games look better at night? Different shaders?) The character selection and customization is robust and fun, and this was the first time I got to play a tree-dude! I was, to say the least, pleasantly surprised when I logged in.

So, is it a bad thing that these games that we used to play actually created the perfect need for a game like WoW? Not at all. You have to have "mainstream" games like WoW to have smaller, independent or unusual games. Same with music or movies. And that's not saying that a "mainstream" product can't be a blast. It's just saying that everything has it's place, and a game like DAoC sure feels nice all of a sudden. Granted, I haven't jumped into high level this or extreme that. I probably never will, instead going off for a while to explore, to die and to try to figure things out. But the game has surprised me, and has fired off an idea to re-examine a lot of the "old" (like 10 years ago was that long ago hehe) games that I played but barely remember.

Like a lot of my tastes, I'll bet my gaming has changed to more fully appreciate a game with a steeper "learning curve."

Beau

Too many updates...cannot play...them all...

Posted by beauturkey Monday December 14 2009 at 10:15PM
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It is hard enough for me to concentrate without having this many cool things going on right now. I mean, not only are there holiday celebrations in real life, holiday music to listen to, cooking to be done and family to be seen, but now I have to contend with several kick-ass things happening in the MMO world:

1) Free Realms update! The winter update is coming, including fishing and HOUSING. The housing looks amazing, and I'm sure it will be beautiful. I am not kidding here when I say that Free Realms is one of the best looking games out there. Now, let me finish before you laugh. The engine runs beautifully on a lot of different machines (we got it to run on my netbook) and the character and environments blend amazingly well together. It really feels like you are playing inside a cartoon. I would like to see more of a classic "MMO" feel from this game, something like a true story or quest line that is...I don't know..a little more mature? I don't mean naughty, weirdos, I mean something..I don't know, more connected. The engine is awesome and I would love to see cut-scenes and grand quests worked with it! This update is happening AS I write this.

2) WoW 3.3: I just re-subbed to WoW and am finding the same problem I always do when I re-sub: too many choices and deciding where to start? I decided to start by FINALLY cleaning out my bank. Then I am going to try some Named Mob hunting along with some Immersion Project stuff. All of the goods are there including campfires, inns and food. WoW is still a game filled with some of the coolest little details...just look around Dalaran for a while. The raiders will be happy to see the new Icecrown stuff, but I am only level 70 and will be happy to ding 71 before the end of my life. Playing this again reminds me of why it is number 1: it just freakin works.

3) Fallen Earth Social Patch: Holy Crap! Not only will you be able to build killer camps to rest in, but the camps will give you different buffs and can even invite wandering NPC's to barter with! I have been playing all night, but mostly doing the fun holiday quests. The Xmas music from the wasteland is hilarious! There is also a "tavern" type system added and gambling! This game is on the up and up, and at this pace they'll have their first "expansion" in no time. Rock on, you weird bearded developers that smoke pipes, ROCK ON.

4) That guys tower thing fell down in EQ2! Cataclysm? Kiss SOE's ass! In Freeport, that guys tower thingy fell down and is all crashed up. You know, that guy with the evil tower in the middle of Freeport. ANYWAY, there is a killer quest to find different parts of this doohickey that will like...ah hell, go log in and check it out. EQ2's holiday stuff is awesome as usual and the Scrooge quest inside the house almost made me cry last year! It's awesome to see this game get even MORE stuff to do, from decorating your house to customizing your character. I hope I have time to play this more this month!

5) Ryzom let's loose the Kitin! No, not the KITTEN. The KITIN. The evil insect race that like, wants to eat all Homins. Crap, there will be some happy Ryzom players this week! The new developers are shutting up and working their asses off, which is so strange to see after 3 years of stagnation. At this rate, I will have my special mount in no time! Seriously, though, if you have not played Ryzom, now is the time. It is still one of the most beautiful games out there, and seems to finally be getting long-needed updates!

6) Wizard 101 releases School Housing and Xmas stuff! Wow, this game keeps impressing with it's ability to do so much and keep the system requirements low. One look at the Storm house made me realize that they have some of the most creative and hard-working creative teams out there! Leala broke down and bought the Death house (which looks like a killer haunted house!) but now she has to decorate it! Compared to most games, Wiz 101 is super-duper generous with their housing. These places are HUGE. Also, they made an exclusive killer mount that will be sold to raise money for charity! What a killer idea...a cash shop item for charity. I hope they raise a ton.  I haven't logged in to see the Xmas stuff, yet, but I will for sure this week!

Not only all this, but we picked Dark Ageof Camelot as our Game of the Site. How wicked. I do NOT remember it being this good of a game, and graphically it seems to have improved. Honestly, though, last time I played it was maybe 5 years ago? So who knows what I might be forgetting.

So between all this content, I have no time to do anything. I want to write some role-play for Fallen Earth and need to work on some art projects. This is seriously a time in which I have to make serious schedules or I will get nothing done. I will have to decide "OK, on Thursday you play Wiz 101, then you switch to Fallen Earth..." This isn't a bad thing, but the only problem is that it costs MONEY. I have money, but between paying bills and attempting to save, I cannot be spending 200 dollars a month on gaming.

I will have to prioritize. I just hope it works.

OK, off to get Leala, then back home to bed. Damn, this entire month is going to be chock full of things to do. It is a really good time to be a MMO'er.

Beau

Now THAT'S how you host a live event.

Posted by beauturkey Saturday December 12 2009 at 12:23PM
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Live Events are a funny thing. Essentially, us players are given practically a blank canvas to work on and hardly any of us ever host any events outside of the normal "let's play what the game says to play" type events. Granted, the game usually has such cool content that we can stand to repeat it over and over, but I don't really understand players that only want to do the same thing over and over (raiding, role-playing with the same group.)

I want variety in my game-words, and player-ran events are usually the place to find them!

Me and Leala have both hosted such events, and I can tell you that they really aren't much harder than anything else to plan. Your average raider probably deals with more headache, yet people seem to think that planning an event involves more. They don't, unless you want them to, and the pay-off can be not only greater but different than anything you ever experience. In other words, host an event sometime, the community will thank you!

There are those events that can turn out poorly, though, becoming nothing but a creepy gathering of cybering losers. But in my experience, if you get involved and participate, most events are usually a lot of fun to attend!

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I logged into Fallen Earth the other day and Ruka Sutain from the T.A.O. guild had just announced a "dance-off" contest. It was nearby, so I rode to the spot to see only one other person "dancing their ass off." I leaped off the horse and started hitting every dance there is. Fallen Earth has a magnificent emote system, including some fantastic dances, so I thought we were going to just dance around as he decided on who was the best. But soon the host showed me that he had thought about this and was ready to have some fun, and soon quite a few people were dancing around. Here are some "rules" with some examples of what he did in order to make this event a blast!

1) Don't sweat the small stuff: When someone decided to park his horse directly in the middle of our dance circle, a few of us started to tell the guy to shove off. The host simply said "Don't worry about it, I can see just fine.." and we continued on our way. The kid on the horse eventually moved and watched for a while. This showed me how powerful the /ignore button in our heads (and in our games) can be, and how to stay clam when hosting a live event.

2) Plan it out, but don't make it too complicated: Give those attending something to do, but don't bog them down with 500 rules. While I thought we were going to just spam dance emotes, the host decided to surprise us with neat games that really helped declare a clear winner. For example, he would type out the last three letters of the dance and the first person (on his screen) to do that dance would win a prize. Another time he gave out hints in the form of funny sentences/clues and the first player to do the dance would win more prizes! It was a creative way to make a dance off actually work. (And I won a stack of 5 pens!)

3) If you have prizes, make them prizes: Don't make us come to your event, follow a bunch of rules and make fools of ourselves just to get a 6 slot bag. Have a variety of prizes and make a few of them really nice. The host of this event gave out many ordinary prizes, but would randomly award really nice prices. This made us all want to stay til the end, and to really pay attention!

4) Be clear, stern and direct: When you are telling a large group of players what to do, use short and precise instructions. If you want to do a duel contest, be clear on the rules of weapon usage. If you are doing a scavenger hunt (which would be perfect for Fallen Earth!) make the list clear and spell everything correctly. I have been to so many events that had these complicated rules to follow, only to be shutdown by confusion. Speak clearly, have clearly marked areas for competing players to stay in. Be fair, but be stern with your rules.

5) Have FUN!: If you start getting stressed by trying to lead an event, DON'T SHOW IT. Don't get mad at players, be polite and have a blast! If you are attempting to have a good time, so will everyone else. Even if they are not having a good time, they will at least put on a good face for your benefit. If you act like a spoiled brat because you can't control one or two people, your crowd will revolt or disperse. The host of this event used "woot" a lot, laughed a lot and gave equal attention to everyone.

Remember when you are hosting an event that if it is fun, players will return! I will gladly now attend any other event that this guy (or his guild) puts on because he worked hard and planned it out. There was minimal confusion, great prizes and creative thinking about the rules. I love it when someone uses their brain and thinks outside the box!

Now, go out and organize something small. Maybe a role-play meet where players exchange stories, with prizes for the coolest outfit? Perhaps a dueling contest with a nice sword as a prize? Or, just host a class on basic cooking or crafting! These community events can make the difference between someone staying with a game or not.

Now go log in!

Beau

Assembling my perfect MMO (Graphics)

Posted by beauturkey Thursday December 10 2009 at 5:24PM
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Before I get too far into this new lil blog series, let's cover the basics. There is nothing better than how a game looks, so let's look at my favorite.

This was hard, because it takes a lot for a game to make me gag. Eve older games like EQ have their charm, so I had to really consider carefully which MMO was my favorite graphically. There are so many that do so many things right, but that have one little thing that just throws it all off: LotRO with it's beautiful scenery yet horrible models, EQ2 with it's nice effects yet ugly textures, Mabinogi with it's charming characters and fighting but horrible scenery....I could go on.

So I had to pinpoint which game had the most wonderful effect on me, overall. This was actually a near draw between two games: The Chronicles of Spellborn and Ryzom.

I gotta' say, though, that Spellborn wins. It is the one game that I can look at and go "If I wanted to make a game, what would it look like?" It is super-stylized, but done in such a way that it doesn't feel cutesy. It feels like a Tim Burton romp without the silly music/feel. It feels like a trip through a beautiful, believable world that I would give anything to visit.

But, like Ryzom, there is tragedy in the game. The music and the colors all pull you into this world of death and sadness without being depressing or drab.

Having a stylized game is a delicate dance. If might be too much and taken as a cartoon, or too little and just look like bad characters in a realistic world.

Spellborn sets such a wonderful magical tone with it's amazing use of lower-res graphics, allowing the game to be ran on many different types of machines. I hadn't met a player yet that hated the look of the game.

The reason that stylized graphics work is that realism often falls short of the mark. In college, while I studied art, I met a lot of young artists that didn't have much of a creative streak to them, but wanted so bad to be an artists that they thought of only looking at a photo to paint. They would try their hardest to copy that photo, and despite some of them being close to successful, every one of them fell short of an exact copy. This only served to draw attention to the fact that it wasn't real.

The same applies to realistic games. They never look photo-realistic, and thus help take me out of the game more than to attach me to my character.

World of Warcraft has shown how attached someone can get to such low-res stylized characters. In fact, I think it's one of the secrets to their success. Spellborn does the same for me, but to a much higher degree. I LOVE looking at this game and can hardly wait to see what happens when it is "re-released" as a true F2P game with cash shop in tow. I hope the game stays with the same look.

So yeh, Spellborn is the best looking game I can think of. This does not mean that other games do not cast a spell on me, but only that Spellborn does it with much more power and ability.

The original Spellborn crew deserve such rewards, but sadly may never get the praise they deserve. The game didn't get it's chance, yet, but here's hoping that it will be around long enough to cast a spell on others like it has me.

Beau

Slowly assembling my PERFECT MMO.

Posted by beauturkey Wednesday December 9 2009 at 9:28PM
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I am not the type to cut down an MMO because it doesn't have exactly what I am looking for, but I cannot help but fantasize. I think we all do, don't we?

Hell, the developers of these games fantasize, too. Most, if not all of them wish they could add things to their game that they just can't. In getting to know Silius from Vanguard (we interviewed him several times for our show, and met him in person) I can tell you that he is the perfect example of a developer that is doing what they can, when they can. SOE spent enough cash on that game and isn't going to be spending anymore, so it's a wonder that the dev team gets done what they do get done.

IMG_0584

I know he has ideas that just aren't feasible, and I know that him and most other developers play other games outside of theirs. All of us in this community have some kind of imagination, for even logging into a game is an exercise in using it.

So I want to occasionally look at amazing systems in games in the hopes that one day one game will contain them all. It will be hard to just not blurt 'em out in one blog (Ryzom's weather, Mabinogi's mounts...) but I will try.

This time I want to mention Fallen Earth's foods. While not perfect, the system shows great promise. The foods can buff you, making the difference between you surviving for long or waking up in a clone chamber. They are fun to cook and even funner to shop for. There are beers, fruits, all sorts of cool ingredients and labels to read.

I am always stunned that food hasn't been considered for more MMO's. Even hero's need to eat, and to be honest those ordinary little things make my character seem more real, making the game more immersive. I have timed the foods I have come across so far in FE, and they last an average of one real-life hour. That one real-life hour equals 6 hours in game. That's about the perfect amount of time for my hero to scavenge before taking a break, at which point he must sit and enjoy a drink and some food. With the possible addition of camps, food might become even more interesting.

Forget making armor or guns, forget crafting poisons or band-aids. The first thing you would need would be food and drink, period.

Cooking isn't hard, like most crafting in Fallen Earth, but it's complexity comes from simply deciding what you want to become good at. There are a million choices, and it's fun finding the ingredients yourself so that you can feed yourself. That's what survival is all about, isn't it?

I would recommend learning at least some cooking in Fallen Earth. Make yourself a rule to stop and eat when the food timer runs out. You won't regret it.

Now, I'm going to go log in and whip up something to munch on.

Beau

 EDIT: Some clarification.

1) The sheer variety is more than most games that do feature food, at least as far as I can remember.

2) You can craft off-line. While not adding to the immersion as much, it is really damn cool.

3) You gain general “XP” for cooking, that goes towards anything because you gain AP’s.

4) Cooking is not really a sub-class, or a sub-job but whatever you want it to be.

Minus all that and you still are faced with the fact that most MMO’s use food as something like a band-aid, something minor but sometimes useful. Food in FE can be however involved as you want it to be involved. There are a few games that allow you to have crafting AS your “main job,” but none do it like FE. (Well, maybe EVE/Ryzom?)

Do work, Aventurine, DO WORK.

Posted by beauturkey Monday December 7 2009 at 5:27PM
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You know, I will never say that I log in and play nearly as much as the average MMO gamer. In fact, I play only about 1-2 hours a day, and even then I play in such a slow godawful way that many would consider it a joke. I am almost jealous of those players that can sit and grind out 6 hours a night doing the same thing over and over, because that is what is required a lot of the time to "achieve" the coolest levels of cool in many MMO's (one reason I love/hate FFXI: the appeal of all the cool stuff that I will never see because I cannot stand to grind that damn much.)

Also, I cannot physically read or stare at the screen for that long. That's a sure-fire way to stumble onto a headache-of-the-eye for the next two days.

So, I am love with odd games that allow you alternate ways to "achieve" anything, games like Fallen Earth that give you choices for things to do by saying that ALL things (crafting, exploring, leveling, grinding) are important. Or, like Darkfall. Say what you will about Darkfall (trust me, I have said it) but in my short time with the game (one and a half months) I think that I stumbled across a game that is more chock-full of Immersive goodness than almost any game out there. But the game was a little too clunky and boring for me, even the "danger" of PvP was a bore being that nothing of any importance happened when I died. (I respawned and maybe lost only something that was easily obtainable.)

So, from a distance, I have been keeping an eye on the game hoping that one day it would have more good than bad and would pull me back in. This latest patch (a free expansion, really) might just have it. I wanted the world to be more full, full of creatures to hunt and to give the game some life, and they seem to have added them. Also, the animals to hunt supposedly respond like a real hunted animal! (going off of what I have heard.)

Then, there is the sick Kraken video. (Ugh. I need to quit using that douchey term. I meant "cool.")

Campfires...sea-towns?? Cool!!

So, why aren't I buying the game RIGHT NOW? (The account I played on before was on loan.) Well, because I have learned that if you are going to spend 50-90 bucks on a game, (just spent 50 on Fallen Earth) you had better make sure that the new expansion/patch that was just released was actually, you know, sick. I'll let the dust settle maybe for a bit. See if they offer a trial. And ask to see if I would truly have to become a "normal gamer" (groups a lot, joins guilds) in order to actually see a "sea-town" or to hunt like a madman. My experience in the game before was mostly negative because of the lame community assholes that ruined it for the bulk of the player-base that was cool, and the boring boring boring landscape that was devoid of everything. If at least one of those has changed, I might go for it.

But keep working, Aventurine. Keep shutting up and working and kicking ass. You're game is a niche one, for sure, full of more goatee'd metal listennin' d-bags than I care to be around, but you are doing some fine work. I like you. I think other developers need to shut up, keep it small-ish and DO SOME WORK like you are doing.

Now, let me meditate on the purchase for another few weeks.

Beau

You can never go back.

Posted by beauturkey Wednesday December 2 2009 at 8:34PM
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The Immersion Rules are more than just a set of role-play guide-lines, they are a training regime.

I have come to believe that a human being can be trained to do almost anything, and to get used to almost anything, with time. Look at what a surgeon does, or a serial killer. Look at all the mind-numbing jobs that exist and all the beautiful art that is made using the sun or moon (something we see every day) as inspiration.

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Married people, or people in long relationships know this. You have to find ways to keep things a bit fresh, or you will surely never last beyond 10 years. You put yourself into small habits like kissing goodnight every night or buying each other small presents once in a while in order to keep things happy and surprising.

It's a process, though. All of life and relationships (yes, even those flings that single people have) can become simplyboring.


I decided to take a stand and attempted to recognize my own ability to grow bored of gaming when I came up with the Immersion Rules. It started for Vanguard, but looking back I wish I could have thought of this years ago. I find myself wishing that I could start over with so many of these incredible games that exist now. So many of them have so many layers now, thanks to patch after patch and year after year. When I look at SWG, for example, I see a game with a million choices (despite having some taken away years ago.) I am constantly tempted to re-sub to EQ2 to poke around with my level 46 Necro.

And then there is WoW.

I had such fun with WoW, so many moments with my family and friends, that I am always thinking of re-subbing to that game. The hard part is that every time I do, I end up chatting with old friends and guild-mates more than playing the game. And the game does not pull on my imagination like it did years ago. I remember the first time I flew on a flight path...needless to say it was magical!

wildgrowth

Many gamers are feeling this now, this feeling of  "been there, done that." But even though there are more games that they have not tried out there than ever before, the old ways of burning to the end of the game or reading up on the classes before you roll a class will never allow them to react to new games like they would have years ago. The over-abundance of information is out there, and they will use it.

If there is one thing that cannot be stopped by an MMORPG, it's a players ability to grow bored.

It's not a matter of innovation. There are more innovative games going on right now than ever. It is a matter of players growing used to the systems and moving on to the next game.

Too much of a good thing, I suppose.

I feel it, too, even though I play in a slow-as-snails style. But, I only feel it with the games that I have already played, and in those games that I played before the Immersion Project came along. There is something about that ever-tweaked set of rules that has helped me to truly play my games more organically, and to learn to use the game and it's citizens for information before using a tell-all website.

But any amount of applying the rules to pre-Rules games doesn't help me. I still grow tired of EQ2 within a day or so, and bored of WoW within hours.

I have been there and done that with many, many games. I just wish I had known back then to stop playing them so damn much. No game has endless content or charm, and I exhausted plenty of both in many games.

Having said all this, I want to be clear that I do not think that these games suck because I am no longer thrilled by them. That's ridiculous. That's like saying that Moby Dick sucks because I have read it a few times.

This is just a wish. A wish that says, like many things in life, I could go back and re-do some of my gaming.

Oh well. I need to go log into Fallen Earth. And then maybe I will give EQ2 ONE MORE TRY.  :)

Beau