Pet Battles Online and RagnarThulhu

So… Pet Battles Online.

In other news, I’ve got a new article up on MMORPG.com discussing themes in Lovecraftian horror and how it relates to and influences The Secret World. Have a look via this link. Just note that I can’t currently read pages on MMORPG.com due to an ISP system issue, so if any readers here have questions over there they’d like answered, I can answer them here or you can put a note there and message me through MMORPG.com’s system and wait a bit. 😀


Reflections on World of Warcraft as a Part of My Life

A writer — and, I believe, generally all persons — must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.
–From “Twenty Conversations with Borges, Including a Selection of Poems: Interviews by Roberto Alifano, 1981-1983.”


The above is one of my favorite quotes about writing. As someone who thinks himself a writer, I’ve come to realize that every experience we have shapes us and changes us little by little, and by writing about these things, I’ve come to effect change both in myself and perhaps in the minds and hearts of people who read my writings.

Now Jorge Luis Borges probably never expected me to take it to the interpretation of shared experiences in the virtual spaces of MMORPGs, but I’d think he’d be okay with them, as they are still interactions with a world, and the things that do happen to us in games mold us if we are receptive enough to learn from them.

Now, World of Warcraft is my second MMO (Ragnarok Online Philippines came before it), and despite it being the second MMORPG I’ve ever played for longer than three weeks (six month stint in vanilla WoW, and then returns here and there), there’s a strong enough connection between WoW and myself that I feel compelled to write about how World of Warcraft effected change in my life.

Perhaps the most poignant tale I can think of related to World of Warcraft and my life was that prior to playing WoW, I felt deeply compelled to earn gear and become stronger and feel epic. I wanted to be cool in a game space because I didn’t feel cool in real life. In Ragnarok Online, I farmed and purchased enough wood to acquire a Sakkat, a korean straw hat basically, because I thought a warrior in-game looked awesome in it. I would run around killing treants repeatedly in one zone for their loot. This mindset traveled with me from playing Ragnarok Online back in college to a point after graduation, when I was jobless and depressed and wanted to feel better about myself through playing WoW.

There was this one time, when my guild and I were in Blackrock Spire, that I was so frustrated with not getting any loot, that I essentially rolled on a purple ring that didn’t have stats useful for me, winning it, and leaving the run because I felt so angry.

My guild leader and I had a talk through email, and I got a reprimand, and I basically felt like crap afterwards because they were congratulating me on the winning roll even if the ring wasn’t right for me.

It was then that I realized that while gear is in important in the game to winning battles, the acquisition of gear should not be the driving force for playing something. I changed myself. I apologized to my guildies, and I basically spent the remainder of my time in Vanilla WoW (up till now even) espousing the virtues of not focusing on the loot. I talked to new guildies about how getting loot to members who needed the stats on an item would ultimately help the guild as a whole progress through content.

Basically, I became really gung-ho about being a good person above being a good raider or player or whatnot.

Of course, there are other things I could talk about regarding how WoW changed me, such as souring me towards overly streamlined mechanics, and raiding and whatnot, but I’d rather look at WoW as a positive force in my life. Without the experience of a guild in WoW, I may not have been as receptive to being nicer to people and thinking about the good of others.


Thanks to Syl for the inspiration.

The Cabin in the Woods MMO

A few weeks back, I put up a tweet about how I wanted the first expansion for Guild Wars 2 to be set in the Cabin in the Woods universe. Of course, that’s bloody impossible, but with my mind so firmly entrenched in wanting more Whedonesque horror, I found myself liking The Secret World because it’s the closest thing to a horror MMO with comedic bits.

I have my first impressions up on CSICON, if anyone wants to take a look, but basically, I’m really hoping Funcom pulls a rabbit out of its hat and does some MMO magic with The Secret World as I’d really like for it to succeed.


Is *insert name here* Evil? No, Just Stupid.

So there’s this story in EVE Online about a guy who said stupid things while drunk under the influence of his own ideas and a crowd that tends to support his viewpoints.

If you’re wondering who I’m referring to, I’m talking about Tobold at the moment.

Nope, not that Mittani fellow. Tobold.

The basis for his consternation lies in the events of Mittanigate, wherein a CSM player (and Council of Stellar Management) chairman named The Mittani seemingly encouraged other people into goading someone to commit suicide.

The fallout of this event was The Mittani (Alexander Gianturco)’s resignation from the CSM, the revocation of his CSM position in its entirety and a 30-day banning for The Mittani’s account (not sure if this still holds) a day later, a boatload of people going nuts everywhere regarding bullying and other issues in relation to this particular event, The Mittani (both character and person) refocusing his efforts on pretty much creating havoc across New Eden, and Tobold saying stuff again.

Now, I read Tobold’s writings, and I can see where he’s coming from, but sometimes, I think he’s preachier than I am, without trying to see what everyone’s viewpoint is on a particular issue.

I asked Syncaine to help me get more insight into everything by providing me with clarifications regarding what happened, minus his personal commentary. From what he’s told me, and from videos I’ve seen and posts I’ve read, all that’s happened is that a drunk guy (The Mittani) decided to be a complete tool and tried to get other people to be a dick to someone. The other guy didn’t quite care, and according to Syncaine, said recipient of the bullying in this case was even joking that maybe he should kill himself to get Mittani in trouble.

Dissecting the scenario, all I can see are the following:

1. The Mittani decides to be drunk and stupid.

2. People in the EVE community decide to act stupid as well.

3. Outrage spreads over the occurrence of stupidity.

4. Recipient of bullying doesn’t give a damn, and also says something stupid that makes light of suicide.

5. Reports that aren’t updated exacerbate matters.

6. Tobold says Syncaine and The Mittani are evil, which is stupid, because Syncaine is about as opinionated and well-spoken as Tobold and had his words taken out of context, and the Mittani, as we’ve discussed earlier, is stupid.

7. Errybody in the club getting tipsy stupid.

What does this lead to? Simple… People are idiots. They can be mean-spirited and follow the flow of discussion to an idiotic conclusion. Worse still, they can choose to follow an agenda of their own that misrepresents ideas to further their thoughts.

Whether that last bit refers to Gianturco’s campaign, Tobold’s writings, Syncaine’s writings, or my writings… why not just lump them all into a ball of stupid, call it a day, and focus our efforts on just being nicer people to everyone in general instead of being stupid dicks online.

That’d be the smartest outcome out all this, I’d reckon.

On Inclusion and Community Building

A little over a month ago, I put up a Devil’s Advocate column for work about the culture of inclusion versus the culture of exclusion happening in today’s game space. It was debated hotly and not received well by some members of the MMORPG.com commenting community, though I’m at a loss to explain why as the mods had to lock comments and remove offensive posts (and I pretty much stopped reading the comments as they were getting out of hand).

For the most part, the crux of the article on allowing everyone to feel safe and unharassed in their games was met with some disapproval. Perhaps it’s my writing style, or perhaps some people simply don’t think the game space is worth a damn other than for selfish play, but I certainly don’t want to spend my time thinking about a community that doesn’t take care of its fellows.

Then I read the latest post on ArenaNet’s blog about building community, and the quoted portion below is an important excerpt of that:

Our ultimate goal is to create an environment that is respectful, welcoming, inclusive and friendly. We want to create a global community where people will feel at home, and an environment that will foster both creativity and collaboration.

The main goal is to be inclusive, not exclusive, to encourage collaboration between communities, and to generate an atmosphere that is helpful, friendly, and above all, respectful.  There is an unfortunate tendency in some online communities to encourage behavior that is detrimental to the fun of a lot of players by allowing a rather toxic and unwelcoming atmosphere. We want to set a new standard and make the Guild Wars 2 community a mature, friendly, helpful and inclusive one that is recognized throughout the industry as being so.  With that goal, we will ensure that both our game and our forums reflect our standards, and we will evaluate our support for communities based on the standards they enforce upon themselves.

Ravious of Kill Ten Rats and Regina Buenaobra of ArenaNet said it best when they said that they expect more. I’m not sure if it relates exactly to expecting more of one’s self on a personal level or as a whole among other people, but from my experience, I’d be the type to think that it starts with the self.

I have my own issues, likes, and dislikes, but that doesn’t mean I can’t expect more from myself in terms of my ability to respect and care for other people. That’s where it starts, and hopefully, it’ll move forward from there.

I think there’s this line from Kamen Rider OOO that kind of says it best. The lead character, Eijji Hino, once said something along the lines of wanting to have the power to help everyone in the world. However, he’s only human, so his philosophy is to start being good to other people within his arm’s reach. I think, with the help of the internet, my arm’s reach can extend farther than I think is possible, and that’s a good place to start being excellent to other people.

Serious Humor for Logical Extremes: The GamesRBad4U Comic Review

Around a week or so ago, I was approached by Pirrip, who helps make the weekly comic called GamesRBad4U. At first I wasn’t sure if I should take a look at it, but I decided to trust that the email was legitimate, and found myself laughing at some of the comics they had for readers.

The description of the GamesRBad4U Tumblr is as follows:

As everyone knows, not only do video games rot children’s minds, but they eventually turn all children into malicious serial killers.

This is the story of one such gamer.

As such, you can probably see that this is a pretty satirical look at the influence of video games on the young or the easily manipulated.

The comic takes a very serious approach to the situation, wherein the main character of the comics, Thomas Maximilian Jenkins, uses video game logic in real-life situations causing havoc or embarrassment to his parents and sister. The video game references aren’t subtle, but the humor lies in the lack of subtlety and the deadpan way in which Jenkins sees everything as a threat or an opportunity to be exploited.

In my opinion, there is one thing that detracts from each comic as a whole. That’s in the attempts to reinforce the humor by having a public service announcement-slash-explanation at the end of each comic. The problem with this is that I feel the comics stand on their own without the need for explanation, or if an explanation appears to be warranted, then it can be put on the post as the first comment for those who don’t get the jokes at first glance.

For the most part, I will say this: When the games I love are referenced and taken to their logical extreme (see Dead Rising and Fallout 3), the comics can be really funny.

I’d recommend this comic for folks who are tired of the anti-gaming rhetoric and want to see it turned over into something funny instead. Definitely not recommended for folks who dislike games, do not play them, or who may take this comic strip as a serious example of the degradation of the youth.

Giving New and Old Games Their Time in the Spotlight

Some time ago, I took Everquest out for a trial run, but I never really got into it because the controls felt alien to me… I mean, pressing H to hail an NPC? Typing words to talk to an imaginary being through the internet? Preposterous, right?

I’d been conditioned by the Eq2/WoW-era RPG to demand an experience that was similar to itself, to the point that I’d never really given the first Everquest a proper run-through because of its naturally different style of play.

I want to rectify that due to my current situation. Right now, there are a couple of AAA free-to-play MMORPGs I’ve not tried, and with my current need to conserve my money, it seemed like a good idea to go and revisit Everquest, especially since I actually have quite a bit of Station Cash on my account that’s doing nothing there.

At the same time, I’ve set EVE Online on an 11-day training regimen, even though I have only four days left on my sub. Whether it trains past day four is beyond me, but at least I’ll have a better inkling of what my plans are when I come back.

In addition, I want to try another genre I’ve yet to actually experience: the superhero game. I’ve downloaded DC Universe Online for a run, and I’m going to make an ice character for use.

My SC will go more to Everquest, probably, mostly because DCUO doesn’t seem to have housiing. Hopefully, I’ll enjoy Everquest and DCUO and, perhaps, even a bit of LOTRO, even without spending for anything with more money than I’ve already invested.

At the very least, some new and old games will get their time in the spotlight.

My thanks to Kaozz of ECTMMO for reminding me of the Everquest F2P transition that’s happening.

The Best Advice To New Capsuleers #TweetFleet

When I play video games, I have this horrible tendency to min-max my actions . It’s just how I got used to playing console games; worse still, it translated into a desire to do things expediently in MMOs.

Now EVE is a big place, with many different things to do and a lot of skills needed to properly accomplish those tasks. The one thing I knew I wanted to do in the long term was to eventually build ships, but I also knew that I had to make money to get the materials and blueprints and skillbooks needed to both build the spacecraft I would be using and fly it properly without losing it in a firefight.

To respond to that scenario, I asked myself, “What do I want to do?”

I wanted to do Planetary Interaction. Then someone told me in the forums that I might not get a lot of money or be able to properly invest in Planetary Interaction as a newcomer to the game. I reconsidered my plans to follow this route.

I followed up that thought with the possibility of doing missions and farming the standings and research points needed for datacores to make the ships I wanted to build. The information was at my fingertips, when someone told me that I wouldn’t be able to make good use of the information I had because I wasn’t training the right skills to level 5. I reconsidered my plans to try this out in the interim.

At a loss, I asked the members on the EVE forums about the best way to skill my character so I could do Planetary Interaction, Missioning, and Industry at the same time, effectively. To that end, Mara Rinn and RavenPaine gave me the best advice I could ever really ask for.

Mara Rinn told me to “Fly spaceships for fun, not profit.”

RavenPaine said, “ISK is very important, but FUN is more important. Make sure that your chosen path (paths) is fun and interesting for YOU.”

Of course, they were right. In the past, nearly every console and PC game I had spent hours obsessing over with min-maxing and “getting everything right,” I ultimately never finished. In MMOs, I got burned out from wondering if I was strong enough, or made enough DPS, or if I was looking at the right database entry for a questline I needed to finish to get better loot that was only incrementally more powerful and not even visually shown on my character.

While in EVE, information and knowledge (and website tabs with guide entries) is definitely important, worrying about maximizing ISK all the time makes it a job: one where, unless you trade in the black market, you don’t even get paid in food-buying money for. It’s an approach that can drive me away from playing EVE, if not from burnout, then from fear of being ganked and losing a virtual ship because I couldn’t fly it right.

I’ve chosen, in that regard, to not worry about maximizing ISK. Instead, I want to do the three things I feel like doing (PI, Missions/Datacore gathering, and building stuff) as best as I can WITHOUT worrying about the min-maxing of stats and the optimization of my skill queue.

Sure, I’ll still be a nervous wreck at times wondering if I’m doing the right thing. That’s to be expected as a new capsuleer. All of it, however, is part of the capsuleer’s experience in space. With a future that reaches up to distant stars, who says we have to stay focused on a single shining beacon of light? New Eden is mine to explore, and I hope to get many good memories out of flying here.

Mastering the Fundamentals: On the New Player Experience of EVE Online #tweetfleet

I am what can be called a new player in EVE Online.I played for 21 days as part of a trial back in 2011 prior to the Crucible expansion, and I enjoyed my time in New Eden.I didn’t sub due to some financial issues that have sorted themselves out, but well… now I’m not sure what to do.

I want to go back to playing the game, however, there is always this hesitation to do so mostly because I have completely forgotten how to do most of the basic stuff in the game. I cannot, for the life of me, remember how to operate my ship, or engage in combat, or loot, or create chat filters to ask people how to do basic things, and I’m afraid that I will be seen as a troll or be treated unkindly if I ask the most basic of questions that are probably answered by doing the tutorial.

While I can reread the tutorials (if I can remember how to get to them), I wouldn’t be able to really do them until I undocked and went into space. Unfortunately, what scares me about that is the possibility that of someone in Highsec, commiting suicide runs at my ship for the hell of it, and I lose a perfectly useful starter ship.

What I’d really like is for aspects of the tutorial to be repeatable without any rewards in order to hone and remember basic skills, because without those basic skills, I’m nothing more than a pod waiting to be sunk.

What would be useful would be official tutorial videos on the basics with the UI magnified to that you can both read the instructions and see the text so you remember what you’re looking for. (very useful for learning something like scanning as well as ship maneuvering). Knowing, for example, when to go approach at X distance versus orbiting at Y distance would be very useful for me as I have very little PVP or even PVE combat experience.

While I could go on and talk about skills training (which I find to be a treat when I find new skills and learn them!), I know I’m not the person to talk about specialization and core competencies. My wish, therefore, is that any new player experience allow for the basics to be taught well and for chances to those skills to be honed further or relearned be given a place of importance for the enjoyment of newbies like myself who take a while to adjust.

Lasers Over Lightsabers

There’s something about the blaster rifle or sniper rifle or blaster pistol that I just absolutely love over the lightsaber.

Maybe it’s because Jedis are too heartless and Sith are too evil.

Maybe it’s because laser guns are a throwback to my childhood watching GI Joe.

Maybe it’s because real bad-asses slice through evil with swords made of real metal.

Honestly, maybe I just like the sound more.

That said, I’m going to roll an Agent again. I miss the sniper rifle DEARLY. 😀