Archive for April, 2009

Hopping on the Bandwagon: Questions About Character Naming

April 18, 2009

I did this more for my benefit than for anyone elses. I saw it on Ysharros’ blog (here’s the post) and decided that it would be fun to do for myself.

 

1. What is your current main character’s name (or names, if you play multiple games)? Thorandor (LotRO which I completed and am done playing now) and no I was not combining the names “Thor” and “Andor.” It’s an extended version of Thoran.

2. What was the name of your very first character in an MMO? Unfortunately I don’t remember, but it was something incredible with an F. It was a Barbarian Warrior. The first one that had any meaning for me was Treefiend Ogrebane, Wood Elf Warrior (rerolled as a ranger when I realized that I just wanted to dual wield and kick, not tank, and that with a ranger I could use bows/spells besides that :D) in EverQuest.

3. Have you kept a specific name through various games, or do you tend to change your naming habits based on the individual game? I’ve kept Treefiend Ogrebane and Treewatcher Entlord (Druid), for all similar characters across games. My Ranger in EverQuest and my Hunter in WoW were both Treefiend, my Druids in EverQuest (I and II) and WoW were both Treewatcher. With LotRO I definitely tried to keep my names as “realistic” as possible. There is nothing I abhor more than the slew of WoW names that could never be considered names (Theassassin and Kthxbye are two particularly horrific ones). I feel far more obligated to have a last name in Sci-Fi settings, but overall I just try to make sure that if you were reading a book about that MMO setting that my name wouldn’t seem out of place.

4. Do you ever reserve names, planning to use them for characters that you might play later? I will reserve my standard names (Treefiend/Treewatcher) but otherwise I will not just save a name, I’ll create a character. I can create a character that I intend to play later without guilt, but I would feel like scum if I made a toon just to save a name (with the exception of the names that I claim as “mine” see: Treefiend/Treewatcher).

5. Of the three common archetypes in MMOs — tank, healer, DPS — which is your current main character? DPS I guess. Captains in LotRO are basically 1/3 of each of those things. I can off-tank to a certain degree, I am the most powerful non-primary healer, and my DPS is nothing to be shrugged at. I can play the full dps/heal/tank role in any of the easier instances. I don’t fit into the three archetypes, but at the same time I AM the three archetypes. My love for the Captain class truly knows no bounds! 😀

6. What archetype was your very first character in an MMO? Why did you choose it? Tank, but it was an accident. I really wanted to melee dps (I didn’t know anything about MMOs at that point) but I didn’t realize it yet. It worked out fine for a while, but then I found out that I had chosen poor starting stats and when I went to reroll I picked a different class that more suited my playstyle (see above about the ranger/warrior).

7. Are you usually attracted to one archetype over another, or do you play them equally? Why? I tend to play them all pretty equally because I enjoy all aspects of grouping in MMOs. My first main in WoW was a priest- and she got leveled to 40 (I reached the end of my talent tree, got my horse, and promptly felt as though I’d finished the game- /WoWquit). My second and third mains in WoW were warriors(leveled fury/protection) and I took the greatest pride in holding excellent aggro against groups of mobs. Then my latest main (and the only one to make it to 70) was a Mage (frost specced) with whom I enjoyed AOE opportunities in dungeons and the ability to take out elite mobs up to 4 levels (maybe 5 ONCE) above me while soloing. In EverQuest I played Druid/Ranger (heals/dps when grouped generally) and now I play all three in one! I have a strong preference for utility, that’s why I am/was so attracted to the captain in LotRO.

8. What is your favorite feature from an MMO you no longer play? I enjoyed the first person camera and spell effects (and combat, and health/mana regen speeds :P) from EverQuest. I have yet to see a third person camera capture the same sense of BEING your character that EverQuest captured, and the simple sparkly lights (that became more numerous and varied as you leveled up!) were perfect.

9. Is there an MMO that you would play if it was free? Which and why? Probably not. I’ve finished the MMOs that I enjoy and unlike some people EVE’s  pvp system fills me with loathing. Someone called it “epeen” the other day, but I feel that when people log in and kill another player (forcing them to lose their ship/cargo) for absolutely ZERO reward or legitimate reason there is either something fundamentally wrong with the game or with the people playing it.

10. How do you measure the success of a character in an MMO (total kills, titles accumulated, wealth, rare items collected, level reached, etc.)? Never TOTAL kills. If i’m PvP-ing a lot then a Kill/Death ratio is always a fun measure, or a Healing/Death ratio if you’re a healer. Rare items are exciting to own, and I get a feeling of accomplishment by having them- same goes for rare titles. If I feel good about my levels it’s just because I can play with more people as I get closer to the cap. Levels in games are simply a measure of time invested- as I get multiple high levels I actually feel WORSE about the game because it’s proof that I’ve spent too much time playing.

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MMOs Teach Important Life Lessons: EverQuest and my Gambling Addiction

April 11, 2009

I feel that it is time someone posted something irrefutably good about MMOs besides more talk about their “potential.”

As damaging as video games can be to ones social life (if single/adolescent) or family life (if married) or both (if adolescent/married) they can also be extraordinarily useful in teaching people important life lessons. I’m a big supporter of the “Internet socialization isn’t real socialization” camp but there ARE a few social situations that an MMO can replicate effectively enough to teach you a good lesson.

MMOs as a medium are vastly inferior social experiences as compared to what people do with the rest of their day. Unless you are a hermit you must go to the store, go to work, interact with your family, etc. and in each of those situations you are around people and interacting with them frequently. In an MMO the world isn’t real- and nothing short of government required play-time and behavior laws will make it feel any more real. Any reality in the game is brought in by people playing with their friends- if you’re the only person you know playing the game then you can stop playing at any time without any real life consequences. I’m getting distracted though, and any behavior has real psychological consequences but that’s not the purpose of the post! 😛

Back on topic now! In an MMO there are situations that you can relate to real life- making purchases, bartering, a kind of theft, bullying, and (the focus of my post) gambling! Back when I played EverQuest and the “bazaar” opened up we finally had a place that we could go and post items for sale and make purchases without having to speak to the seller (This is another tangent, but I believe this is a step in the wrong direction (Auction Houses be damned! 😡 ). This also meant that there was a single place that people with money, or with a means to obtain money could be found.

It is not surprising that people wanting to take advantage of others and get their hands on easy money are attracted to these market environments, and it is in this environment and with one of these people that I learned a lesson that could have realistically cost me thousands of dollars.

Someone would spam a message every couple minutes that looked like this, “Gardok yells “Welcome to Gardok’s Casino! /roll 65-98 and double your money! Roll 99-100 and triple your money! Standing at the entrance to Shadowhaven!” Logic clearly says that in the long run you will lose a lot more than you gain, but there’s always the chance that you could be lucky!

I had recently sold a very expensive item of mine and so I had somewhere in the realm of 2000 platinum (the largest denomination of coin, 2000 was a lot- not nearly wealthy -but a lot more money than I’d ever seen before). I had a lucky streak and made it up to about 10,000 platinum before I started to lose. They always say quit while you’re ahead, but that’s a LOT easier said than done when you’re caught up in the grips of all that excitement.

Before I knew it I had no money and I was offering up pieces of armor to gain some money back. Before I knew it I had literally gambled away my shirt- this guy had my armor, my weapons, and even my containers and the items held within. I. Had. Nothing.

Nothing.

I was immediately lost in the throes of self-loathing and self-pity. I couldn’t play the game anymore! Getting the kind of gear I had acquired had taken a lot of time and while money could buy it all back, it’d take a LOT more than i’d ever seen to be able to buy it all back- trying to kill anything would be impossible. It was basically game over. In real life I would be naked and homeless. The guy was kind enough to let me continue playing the game by giving me all of my gear and bags back for free- what a kind soul! I do realize that a casino owner in real life would not be so generous.

Although the experience was essentially just an unfortunate transfer of my 1’s and 0’s into his 1’s and 0’s the feelings and actions were all too real. Just as ridicule teaches reasonable people not to take things intended for others in real/virtual life, so too does gambling in an MMO teach an identical lesson to that of gambling in real life! I am fortunate to have learned that I am susceptible to compulsively gambling when it didn’t actually mean anything. To have learned this lesson in real life would have been considerably more painful!

So regardless of what may be bad about MMOs no one can say that they don’t occasionally teach at least one important life lesson.