Ok now that I have done my good deed for the day (see previous post), in the words of my favorite disembodied lips from a movie ever, "Let's get down to it boppers!" and talk about the special little snowflakes that we play these games alongside every day.
Allow me to preface this post by saying that I realize that a lot of people on this site do not recognize the game that I am about to talk about next as an MMORPG. Although I respect and understand that opinion, I hope that you will see, after clicking on some of the links where I picked up my graphics (and thanks to all of those places) that the folks here at MMORPG.COM (whom I am not personally affiliated with) would be shooting their selves in the foot if they didn't give this game at least a minimal amount of coverage.
That being said, let's get on with the fun.
You know, I've known it for years but I've tried really hard not to say anything. This is because I want to play these games and I want to play them with other people that I know, and I want to try to have some kind of cohesion within that dynamic so that we can see as many of the things as there are to see in as many games as there are that I can get to them to play. Right now we are all playing League of Legends.
To catch some of you up, League of Legends is a fairly fast paced player vs player or player vs artificial intelligence game that pits up to 5 individual human players against 5 human, or computer players in a semi-overhead view. The matches run in a capture the base kind of scenario where there are three lanes leading towards each base, and minions are sent down each lane in order to assist the player in destroying turrets, that are placed along the way, and getting to the enemy base.
Players, or "Summoners" as they are called, can select from a list of "Champions" provided by the game and compete in these matches against one another or the AI. There are several different kinds of matches ranging from kinds using different maps to kinds where the objectives or champion selection are slightly different.
Each of the champions have their own special kinds of attack, defense, and support skills, and each is individualized down to what they wear and what kinds of weapons they use aesthetically. Champions even come with different "skins" that can be purchased in order to make your Nasus (one of the champions in the game) look different from a fair amount of other people's Nasus, that is, if they even choose Nasus to play, which they can only do if someone on their team has not already chosen him. The opposing team can choose to play him too, but only one person per each team gets that choice. All of the other team members must choose a different champion.
All this to say that the game does a lot to make you feel special. In addition to making sure that you will be the only person playing your summoned champion on your team, and providing you with a skin option to make that particular champion even more personal to you, the game also allows you to equip your champion during the match with a variety of items, weapons, jewelery, clothing, etc... All of these items have stats and special abilities all their own and that will allow you to build your champion into the beast that you want them to be, be that beast a defensive one, an offensive one, or some form of support.
Of course champions are classified by what they are best at, there are tanks, assassins, fighters, marksmen, mages, and support, the latter which encompasses all manner of tricky and funny ways of helping your fellow summoners/champions, but there is no real reason, using the right kind of equipment, that you can't make a killer out of any of these archetypes simply by buying the right items during a match and using that champion in the right way. All champions are built to be able to defend themselves or offend someone else, some are just better at one thing than the other or better at supporting than either of the other two, and this is how I believe they get their titles.
And so there's that. You don't have to be pigeon holed. You don't have to be a generic.
Of course, like in any game, there are those who would try and tell you that there is only ONE good way to build a certain character, and that may indeed be true. But what I have noticed about this game is that it is not so much WHAT you are building, but HOW and WHEN you are building it in response to the person that you are fighting against.
Let's say you are playing Lucian, a notoriously difficult to master marksman. Lucian is a human who walks around carrying these two big ole handguns (Sacred Ancient Artifact Handguns to be exact), and he doesn't have any melee weapons to speak of. On top of this he is a human in a world made up of all kinds of crazy monsters and beasts with their own special variety of hurt to lay upon you if they can get their hands on you, and so he is also, seemingly, made of paper when you first start playing with him.
In a standard match your item list might look something like this (see above). Each of the items you see listed comprised of several smaller items (not shown) that could be selected over the course of the match. Most people, because Lucian is a marksman and thus reminiscent of a DPS character, will choose to buy only the sub-items or items that add to his DPS. The idea here being that old one that the best defense is a good offense.
Did I mention that Lucian was a human though? Did I say that he felt like paper at the beginning of the match? I wasn't kidding. Therefore it might be wiser to work on some of good old Luc's defense before going all out Purifier on em.
Wait, did that seem like something that someone with a superiority complex might say? Nevermind, we will get to that later.
In a fight against Nasus, who carries as one of his attacks a nasty area of effect pit of fire that, when laid out, will burn whoever is standing in it with magic damage, it might be wise to build on Lucian's magic resistance. In a fight against Pantheon, a full blown Spartan warrior type who can spring onto you faster than a spider monkey all hopped up on that Mountain Dew, a good idea might be to build up your physical resistance. All of these are options as you earn money during the match, but only the right build will get the cookie out of the cookie jar, which in this case is a win.
Sometimes, and this is completely legal and acceptable, it might be wiser to go away from the recommended or preset item lists that have been supplied to you, or that you have built, and wing your build based on who you are up against, offsetting their build piece by piece until said time that you can get the upper hand. When I am playing I generally purchase, on the fly, whatever I can think of to solve whatever problem I am having while trying to stay within the pyramid structure of heading towards that final item that I am hoping to have eventually.
That's a lot of individual input. A lot of differentiation between characters.
But wait! There's more.
The game also allows you to level yourself on the Summoner level.
That's right. Utilizing points that can be earned as your summoner levels, and runes that can be purchased using influence points (the in-game currency that can be earned by participating in matches, not to be confused with Riot points that must be purchased with real money), you can also enhance your self in a way that enhances any champion that you play!
Now that's a lot of different ways to be individual isn't it? (Here it comes)
So why?...Oh why?!? do I keep running into people who feel like they need to add an additional level of "special" to all of that customization?
So here is the scene. You are sitting in the room with your wife and your best bud. You are all settling in for some good LOL action when your bud says, "Dude, drop out of this round." You ask why and he tells you it is because someone else has already locked in the Champion that he likes to play.
Now the game punishes you for this kind of behavior. In fact, you are put on a virtual "time out" for a minimum of 5 minutes for dropping out of a match after you have selected to enter one. So you say, "Pick someone else!" This is when he tells you that, of all the tons of Champions the game has to offer, of all the skins to make each of those champions look different, that he has decided that he is only EVER going to play this ONE champion, using this ONE skin. And to make matters worse, that he intends on dropping out of any match where someone locks in that particular champion before he does.
Later, while talking to the wife, you bring it up. "Can you believe that guy?"
It's nothing that serious but you figure it's at least worth the laugh. That's when she tells you "No, that's a good thing because it means that we will always have a tank and I never intend on playing tank!"
So you (being me) try to explain to your wife that this is a "team" oriented game and how, in order to enjoy it in all of its different flavors, you may be forced to step out of your comfort zone champion-wise for the best of the overall team, and you get this.....
"Well I will never play a tank and I will never PVP either! If you want me to PVP then just invite me, but I will never pick that if you leave it up to me!"
Now this would be ok if the idea here was that I would PVP while she ran AI matches while in the room right next to me. But funny thing about some wives (and some husbands too, and some buddies too for that matter) often times they not only want to play in the same match as you, but in the same LANE as you. This means that, unless I play the tank, and as long as I am playing with her, we will NEVER have a tank and/or I will NEVER get to be anything other.
Ok fine. I'll play support. There's no rule that says that there has to be a tank, plus since we already have a dedicated tank, having another (for those times when we play 3v3) might be redundant. I am telling myself all kinds of this good stuff because I want us to be an efficient, lethal, fighting machine.
Of course there are no real rules that say that we have to choose anything in particular. We could all be tanks if we wanted, all be dps or support too. I am just stuck in my MMORPG trinity head on this thing and thinking that it might be better if we rounded things out a bit.
I've also been mollywhopped a few times by teams that had either or, so I am settled into the idea of sometimes being the tank (depending on the other two people we pick up in our 5v5) or sometimes being support (in the same situation or more importantly in 3v3).
I feel like I am being a real team player by thinking this way and set off to learn everything there is about everything. It is during this learning process that I come to understand the aforementioned building plan.
So I learn how to play a few support champions and prepare myself for the next time we are all teamed up so that we can really show that AI a thing or two. (Whoo! That's some tough talk right there!)
Then bro comes back over, and we are setting up for a match, and all of a sudden the two people that we picked up are down in the bottom lane, my wife is up in the top lane with my buddy, because HE is playing the tank, and I am on a support character sitting in the middle lane by my damn self!!
Of course we get pounded. Mostly because the enemies in the upper lane got a jump on my wife and buddy on kills, and they were not able to offset it, but partially because the particular support champion that I had picked was REALLY support-like, and couldn't do much to turn the tides on his own either. And I get that "Oh so special" experience of having some 14 year old with better typing skills than a filter explain to me how bad I suck at LIFE, only to, after having suggested that maybe each of them might want to consider building more towards the person they were up against (as I suggested in this very blog earlier), get to hear a play by play of how I have a superiority complex because I think I am better at all of the games than anyone else.
My mind immediately begins to race. Memories come flooding in.
The several times that she let me die in Everquest if the attacker was an animal because she was playing a Druid.
The 10's of times that I re-rolled out of a class that I had chosen because he, or our other friend, had seen me do well in it and had decided to make one of their own, causing redundancy.
The 100's of times that we wiped on doable missions because those same friends lacked the skill or attention to properly play those FOTM characters.
And the 1000 times that, after holding my tongue through all of these trials to the point of utter frustration, I had offered any kind of advice, only to be accused of having a "superiority complex!"
And suddenly it occurs to me.....I AM TRULY SUPPORT!!!
No matter what class I play, no matter what game I play, I will always be support. And this is because each and every one of the friends that I have to play with are like "special little snowflakes" that have to have things "just so". They are the people who like to order their food at the drive through window with "no onions" or "no cheese" or "extra cheese" or "extra hot". The people who have allergies to everything or need "special considerations" for everything. You know, the nutcases.
Meanwhile I am the one who takes the hits. I am the whipping boy. I am the one who never gets to get the proper order. The one who never gets to eat certain foods or do certain things. The one who never gets to participate at his level. The one who never gets to WIN!!
And should I ever decide to stop being support? Well, let's just say that the butthurt would be magnifique!!!
As I am usually one of the only people who is willing to put up with a lot of this crap that any of these people know.
I am of a mind to tell a true story here of the one time one of these people decided that I was a huge enough ass to go it on their own, but I won't. It is bad enough that I get to talk about these people this badly, this much. And they are good sports about it and so I won't push that envelope any farther than that.
You would think then that I would either settle into this state of toolage or, like others have done, get rid of the people that have been oppressing my exquisite gaming potential.
But these are my friends. This is my wife. And believe it or not, I actually ENJOY playing with them.
We may not have ever been in the best guild in any game, or been the cream of the crop in any game we've played, but we have gone on a LOT of adventures together and we have a TON of stupid, entertaining stories to tell about the time when such and such did so and so because he or she was an idiot.
And that is worth something.
So here's to all the people who have ever played an MMORPG or otherwise, who have sacrificed their good time in order to show their friends and family a good time.
WE ARE SUPPORT!!! WE KNOW WHO WE ARE!!! AND WE UNDERSTAND ONE ANOTHER!!
I personally salute you because I know EXACTLY how challenging it can be to just want to be normal and have what you consider abnormal people telling you that you are the messed up one.
It's all good though, I PVP my butt off whenever they are not around anyway.
And best of all, do you know what? I WIN!!!
As for The League of Legends not being an MMORPG?
If you are support, it will be no different than any MMORPG that you have ever played. But then, when you are support, LIFE is no different than any other MMORPG you have ever played.
At least, not in my understanding.
See you in the games.