Posts Written On May 2015

The missing link between West-East and Grass-Snow

“The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an agnostic.”

– Charles Darwin

Alright, here’s the deal: You’re sitting on a side node in Civil War, because naturally, no one else wanted to spend their precious time with defending. You’re crazy enough to take the responsibility, and face the possible reactions such as „noob” „idiot” „WTF” „go die in a corner”, in case you lose it. Naturally. Things seem to go well, you can cap the node without getting attacked by millions of assassins and operatives, because FAIR PLAY people! Now you only have to find a good hiding place, go in stealth – because that is apparently the only reason why you have to defend, you’re the only stealther. Yep. -, and lean back, job well done. Aye, no need to mention the constant nervousness of failing the other 7 great guys and girls in your team. Who cares anyway? Right? Right.

So, it turns out, it is going to be one of those Civil Wars, when no one can cap the middle node, you realize the fact, that you’re stuck here for a while. You’d love to say someone should replace you at the node, cause, well, obviously the team’s dps is not good enough, and naturally, you could make it better. Naturally.

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The Gorgeous GM pt. 2/3

The Gorgeous GM pt. 1/3

After a night of long emotional conversations, Rebecca started planning and recruiting for the new guild. Some wanted to join, some were in doubt, some were evasive. As usual, there are surprises and disappointments when you ask people to show their true colors, but she had no time to contemplate.
She needed a team.

Those on her side, she tried to skype. With cam. She wanted to see who she was dealing with.
Rebecca herself was beautiful, and exceptionally so. (Picture the reaction of some of those guys living in mom’s basement.) Also, or maybe because of that, she didn’t do submissive things; she never tilted her head (not in person nor in pictures), no prolonged whiny sounds in her speach oooh, don’t do thaaaaat, no little high exclamations, none of these. She would look at you straight, and bark questions about gear, commitment, raiding times and dps.

Her updates to me sounded upbeat. She got a 10-men team with some back-ups. And more important: their guild would lose some key players.
They were going down.

D-day. Forming the guild. Guildquits, followed by invites. She had the main tank, two healers, and a couple of the top dps from her former 25-man progression team. First raid: the same day. And they wouldn’t be able to raid.

Thrilled and glowing with pride she walked the streets of Stormwind.

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The Psychology Behind Character Creation

In real life there is no appearance modification station and in order to alter the way we are seen by the rest of the world we have to resolve to less flexible means. We can change our clothes, get tattoos or piercings. We can colour our hair, style it or choose to shave it. We can even go down a “body size” or two by changing our diet or going to the gym yet it’s pretty clear that our real life customization tools are far more limited than those in game. When we enter the virtual world of online gaming it is so easy to make the avatar representing us look however we want them to. So what lies behind the choices we make when we create these in game manifestations of ourselves?

Recent research is telling us that when our choice is not effected by in game mechanics (for an example choosing to be a certain class for a stat increase) we are prone to want to create slightly idealised versions of ourselves. This said we don’t necessarily seek perfection. Often a flaw or other resemblance to our own physical selves helps us relate to the character we are playing.

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Take a seat, and tell me where it began.

“So, tell me, how did you start?” He lit a cigarette and took a sip of his coffee. He was looking at me with genuine interest and curiousity, he really could not understand me. According to him, there’s not many girls around, who do this. Nonsense. I know plenty. It’s not really a big deal. But hey, he travelled quite a lot to meet me here, so I might as well start talking I suppose.

So I told him. I told him, that it’s a very funny beginning, because it was actually my father who gave me the first one when I was 14. He couldn’t possibly know I will get addicted after all. If I wanted to be completely honest though, I tried it first with my cousin when we were twelve. Little kids, knowing nothing about this stuff, but we stayed up late cause we were enjoying it immensely, sometimes even til midnight. We thought we were so cool that time. I didn’t know I’ll come to the state where I usually stay awake until 4-5 in the morning just because it is simply too hard to stop. The guy started to laugh, his eyes sparkling joyfully. For some reason he found my story utterly entertaining. Well, suit yourself man… So anyway, I continued. I said I started lightly, did similar things for like two years, and only on every second weekends. But shortly after that, I needed something new, had to dig in deeper. Soon I found myself doing harder and more complicated stuff, and almost on every day basis.

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The Gorgeous GM pt. 1

At a party, Rebecca, a friend of a friend, asked me what games I played and if I could advice her something to try. She was into the phone games, (feeding pets, growing pumpkins, decorating houses, the works) and wanted to broaden her horizon. Something sweet, not too brutal, no walking around with a gun.

Maybe you will like Warcraft, I said. The same quick reward system, and you can be an elf. She wanted to be an elf. I sent her an invitiation, and she created a blonde hunter elf. I showed her around for the first couple of hours and left her to it.

At that point I was not playing Warcraft much, so it took a couple of days before I checked up on her. She had levelled a lot, asked me an incredible amount of questions and didn’t really have time to listen to the answers. I saw the signs. She was falling for it. And she was falling hard. Soon she told me about her spreadsheets, her own gear calculating system and self programmed hovering tools. I pictured her desk as glowing screens in center, surrounded by scribbled notes, empty cans of Red Bull and forgotten foods.

She wanted to be the best.

She wanted to raid and be top dps.

She got into a guild and started raiding a couple of times a week. And it went well; she was making progress, learning the tactics, topping the dps. And she expected the same dedication of others. This guild had the fairly common guy-girl leadership. She got along great with everybody, but not that great with leadergirl. There was tension between them. Then Leadergirl cancelled some raids, changed times and switched players around teams for no apparent reason. Rebecca got angry with Leadergirl, I want to play, why did you cancel, we need to progress, why did we get the noob healer, and as reply Leadergirl kicked her. Just like that.

Hours spend on various mumbles. This guild had to be crushed. She would take away her team and start her own guild.

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Ranked PvP and why Bioware needs it

Every day millions of people all over the world interact with each other in online environments known as MMORPGs. Asking these players why they play reveals a wide variation of motives. Nick Yee made a study of this subject. Using this I will tonight write down a short and (hopefully) easy to read analysis of the long term benefits that could be gained from a functional ranked PvP scene.

Let us start by asking why people play these types of games. If we can first articulate the motivations then this provides a foundation to explore the methods of creating a satisfying in game environment. For game developers finding out more about player motivation is important since it can emphasise how certain game mechanics may attract or alienate different types of players. Though Bartle’s Player Types is a well-known player taxonomy it would be hard to use on a practical basis unless it was validated with more verifiable data. I will instead use the paper by Nick Yee: Motivations for Play in Online Games. In this study three main components emerged as the principal incentives.

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If we now take a closer look at rated gaming in SWTOR we have two types of ranked PvP queues available (even if they are highly dysfunctional due to reasons like imbalance between classes and poor matchmaking resulting in the existing population feeling discouraged to queue).

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Hiding behind a virtual mask

The world wide web is filled with people behind masks. What do I mean by that? One of my favourite writers once said:

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth.”
– Oscar Wilde

This sentiment seems to be both true and untrue at the very same time. Oscar Wilde’s aphorisms often makes a person think “Yes, that is very true. Wait… Is that really true?”.

There seem to be things that people are more willing to reveal only when hidden behind the mask of animosity.

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Booty Bay

My guild at the time had some good players. The best of them was 14 y.o. Ben.

One day, Ben and I were playing together. More specifically, he was boosting and chaperoning my alt in Booty Bay. Me looting as fast as possible, while he cleared the way, and killed of random Alliance on the side. We discussed Cassius Clay. Talked briefly about Ghost in the Shell. And then I casually mentioned an ex.

His tone of voice changed.
‘Why did you break up?’
Too serious. He sounded too serious.

Why. Because he was an idiot. Because it was based on that one perfect summer evening, with the endless talking, where it seemed destined to be.  Because hormones don’t think long term. Because of unconscious patterns you end up repeating, but shouldn’t.  Because I lied to myself. Because all of that, and none of that.

‘We didn’t fit together. We thought we did, but we didn’t.’

‘Yeah,’ he said.
After a pause. ‘Yeah, my mom said the same.’

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Red pill, blue pill

You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

Existentialist Jean-Paul Sarte said “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.”

Sartre was of the belief that ours is a godless universe. Thus there are no absolute guide or understanding in life, neither is there a moral code for us to follow. Sartre meant that we are all radically free. Free to the point of feeling abandoned and forced to take full responsibility for everything that happens, even though we probably don’t really want to.

He also famously said “Existence precedes essence” meaning one first exists, then invents oneself through the choices we make.

The responsibilities that come attached with this freedom can be quite intimidating.

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Hey, I’m Canis

Playing computer games is deteriorative, completely useless, devours your time and energy, and it makes you a hopeless addict. The violence shown on screen triggers agression, all the time spent stooped over the keyboard could be put in much better use, and you’ll become so utterly antisocial, that muttering one single sensible sentence at for example the dining table is going to be the worst nightmare ever. You will soon realise you started to measure people’s worth in dps and hps, your biggest dilemma will be to decide whether to be a mage or a warrior, and lag, low fps will become your sworn enemies. This whole thing called gaming is just one oversized black hole anyway, somewhere in the endless labirynth of the universe, which sucks you in with no chance to escape whatsoever.

*insert disk scratch sound*

Woah wait, we have some serious things to discuss here my friend…

So first of all, let me introduce myself. I’m Canis. A realistic dreamer, devoted listener, lover of meaningful silence and metaphores, and a relentless hound hunting sins and secrets. With my fellow gamers, we’re here to show You, that there’s a lot more to gaming than you’d ever imagine. So let us take You on a journey you won’t forget! We’re diving deep, and when I say deep, I mean Mariana Trench, Challenger Deep.

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