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I’m a completionist. With a limited attention span. Wat?

So, I’m playing a single player RPG. Like lots of people, I need to talk to everyone and I need to collect every bit of trash. I need to complete all the side quests and I need to do ALL THE THINGS. It’s compulsive. I literally cannot enjoy playing any other way.

In Skyrim, for example, I religiously looted every one of the tens of thousands of urns, containing random worthless junk, wherever I went. In games like KOTOR or Dragon Age, I have never and will never experience the wonderful writing and acting, or differences in story, associated with killing Juhani or arguing with Leliana to the point that she leaves.
Whilst I tend to typically play the “good guy,” hence no fighting with Leliana, the reason I don’t do these things is not because I don’t want to be evil. It’s because I can’t stand the idea that I will miss out on content.

Im KOTOR 2, where your alignment dictates whether you recruit Mira or Hanharr, I could play either and do either. However I could never kill Juhani, even if I played Dark Side, because that would mean having slightly less content. Hell, I hardly ever used her in my team, so it was only conversations on the ship I would be missing out on, but still I couldn’t do it.

This has always intrigued me as I have pondered what it is that I actually enjoy about games, or at least about single player games. Going back to Skyrim, I played to the point of abject boredom and ended up not finishing the major quest lines in that game as a result. I became despondent as I constantly fast travelled to various vendors to sell my junk and free up some carry weight. I got bored of clearing every single cave and tower, whether I needed to or not, because it irritated me to have to run past them. Hell, it irritated me that I would have to leave them ‘undiscovered’ as I zig zagged all over the map, from one nearby point of interest to another. The world map itself, featuring those locations that I had actually discovered, became more like a to-do list than a map.

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Azeroth: Confessions and emotional investments

The first game I ever played was Pong. It was 1978, and I was twelve years old. My father worked for the Ford Motor Company and flew a lot between Dagenham (Essex, UK) and Detroit, and on one particular trip he arrived home with an Atari 2600. That’s when everything changed. After that it was the ZX81, then the BBC B and an Amiga. The first pay cheque my boyfriend earned after graduating University went on buying a 386 PC with a copy of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Nearly thirty years on we’re still married, and gaming is a part of everyone’s lives in this house: my 14 year old son and 10 year old daughter are playing Trove together as I type this article.

However, these days I spend quite a lot of time in Azeroth playing World of Warcraft, and that’s what I’ll be talking about during my tenure here.

The MMO was bought initially in order to help me through long nights breast feeding the youngest, and in the end it saved me from myself, after I was diagnosed with Post Natal Depression. It became a space where I could allow myself to just kick back and relax, and evolved into something more significant as time went on: becoming a GM in a small but committed Guild gave me confidence in the virtual world where none existed in reality. It was a vital first step back on a road to recovery which pushed me to write daily as a means of helping to rationalise how I felt and to deal with the issues I had. In February 2016 I will celebrate seven years of my Warcraft Blog. I know that without this particular game in my life, I’d not be the person I now am.

It’s odd when people ask me to describe the journey I’ve had with games since those early days. Being a woman in what was back then very much a man’s world was always difficult, especially when I could make my 10p last longer in a Galaxians machine than most boys my age.

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Asheron’s call Part 2: “Carebears”

Follow this link to read Part 1 in this series.

Before the story goes any further, I really need to explain the key mechanics at play. Without understanding them, it’s impossible to see the fascinating behaviours exhibited by the player population.

Carebears

The most commonly used insult and an accurate description of most people. As in real life a Carebear is someone who wants to play if they are on the winning team, who wants to fight if the odds are in their favour, who wants to progress without obstacles. They are followers rather than leaders.

Whilst Asheron’s Call had an economy (based around cash and loot and player trades for rare items) on Darktide the currency was Carebears. Available in their thousands, Carebears were the worker bees that powered the XP Chains and the cannon fodder that won or lost wars. The only information anyone could see about a Monarchy was the total number of members, by viewing the character sheet of someone in that monarchy. Therefore, in a time of war, the only measure for the progress of that war was whether the Monarchs concerned were gaining or losing members.

Because Carebears don’t stay and fight for the losing team.

Second, Character Builds & Leveling

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Asheron’s Call: PVP SRS BSNS – Part 1

PVP is pretty sterile in many MMOs, in my opinion, because it lacks consequence beyond things like rating or titles. You can name change, server transfer or reroll. There is no long term impact on the game or its landscape based on whether you win or lose. and it largely takes places in instanced arenas and warzones whilst open world PVP has safe zones and unkillable guards. Even if you manage to kill the unkillable guards, nothing changes. The map will be the same tomorrow as it was today.

There was a game where, partially by design and partially by the driving force of player ingenuity where this was not the case.

Asheron’s motherf***ing Call. Darktide Server. Unlike the other servers, Darktide was unique. It was 100% PVP, 100% of the time. No housing, no safe zones, no NPC guards. If you died then the guy that killed you took your best gear from your corpse. Cheating and hacking was rife and progress in the game was achieved through grinding in dungeons, meaning if you wanted to level you joined a ‘Monarchy,’ got some mates, got tooled up and went to fight for it.

What unfolded on Darktide between 2000 & 2002 was a complex geopolitical hurricane that could have proved the basis for a thesis by a Sociologist. In fact, it did. More than one. It was the best game I have ever played and that had nothing to do with the game play.

First, some context.

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Are Exploits Cheating?

Of all of the topics to ponder in the world of multiplayer games, the one with perhaps the most grey area is the subject of exploits. In MMO’s specifically, some exploits and bugs are left unpatched for years, allowing enterprising players a simpler path to victory than intended. Other exploits, however, result in account suspensions and outright bans.

The question of “are exploits wrong?” has been explored at length by more qualified gamers than myself, and the answer that we always seem to land on is “it depends”.  In fact, it depends on several things. Does using the exploit give the gamer an unfair advantage in a PvP situation? Does using the exploit wreak havoc on game systems (such as the economy)? Does using the exploit degrade or disrupt the experience of other players in the game? Even the answers to these questions are seldom black and white. After all, a player might contend that my constant kiting or jumping during combat is ruining his/her immersion, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m doing anything wrong. Likewise, is gaining high-level gear more quickly than intended truly putting a player at an advantage if they haven’t also gained the PvP experience that goes along with obtaining said gear?

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My love for online communities

I began playing SWtor at launch and was utterly new to MMO’s. In fact I had no intention of spending much time interacting with other players. I had a few real life friends who had expressed mutual interest in the game and that was cool. I intended to play the game for the story alone as I was already a fan of Bioware & Obsidians outstanding Knights of the old Republic games. Obviously this all changed and I soon became part of an online community within the game. I was just casually minding my own business, levelling on Voss as I recall and a guy asked me to group up for a heroic quest. This was pretty alien to me at the time, mingling with a complete stranger in a virtual environment, but was very rewarding! The sense of accomplishment and teamwork was great and something which I had yet to experience in video games.

After completing the quest, the player who invited me to the party offered me a place in his “guild”. This was another concept I was unfamiliar with, but the last novelty went ok so I said “sure” and took my first gm ‘Ruuk’ up on his proposition.

Being part of the guild certainly had a positive effect on my time in game, advice and help was always offered and there were always people around to just hang out with. It’s funny how someone just saying “Hi” can put you in a good mood when you log into a game. Which brings to mind the question, are there other online communities outside of gaming that can induce a strong feeling of interpersonal bonding? I ask this since the competitive nature of playing video games and the immersion factor appears to enhance the connection.

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Liebster Love

The Liebster love has come to GD, thanks Pixelkaffe! To make this a little easier (and less tedious for the readers out there) I and Mylex will do our answers in the same post! In reality it’s just Mylex being too lazy to make his own post and tag his own victims but whatever.

11 random facts about Noctua:
1. My favourite number is 125 and it changes every year on my birthday (in accordance to a schedule I made when I was 7).
2. People say I think too much. How can someone think too much?? I can see how one could think too little.
3. Money and fame Honesty and transparency are the qualities I value most in people I meet.
4. I name my computers. This one is called Ivy.
5. My wildest and deepest desire as a child was to have a secret room that no one but me knew existed. In the absence of such a room (and since my mum could not be pursueded to hire the workers needed to design such a room for me) I once put a little lamp and a chair in a tiny closet where I would read books for hours while people where looking for me.
6. I’m extremely sensitive to bright colours that don’t match… It’s an unwelcomed legacy from my mother who taught me about complementary colour schemes from a very young age.
7. I’m often openly hypocritical. Take this situation for an example; I love asking other people questions but I am easily unnerved by answering them myself. I’m very cagey by nature and even writing these 11 facts about myself is proving a very long and uncomfortable process!

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History of TRE guilds – Reality Check

Love them or not, we all know who they are. It is coded in every fellow pvper, that when they see that guild tag in a warzone, then it probably won’t end well for their team. But besides the common reaction “It’s RC, we’re screwed”, what do we actually know about them? To be honest with you all, I didn’t know much, so the interview with the guild’s GM, Rummel, and the Co-GM, Anthis was very illuminating, if I can say that. I’m certain you crave the information I have, so to not keep you in the dark any longer, let me present you the dramatic history of Reality Check!

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8v8 Ranked on TRE Part 2

To read part 1 of this article follow this link

By October or November 2012 the server had two regular teams in TWATs and Nostrum and some new semi-regular teams in Spaceballs, Dxun, Drop it like it’s Hoth and the first version of Reality Check.

Now, these guys started queuing of their own accord, either for the first time or as a return to action, but they benefited from coming in to an environment that had lost a lot of it’s toxicity. For that change in atmosphere to have taken place I clearly could not be the only person reaching out and building bridges. On the forums, where every word would be analysed and the fuse leading to the drama-bomb sat ready to be lit, an interesting thing started to happen. Unprompted, someone from each team would post each morning thanking the teams they had played the previous night and give hints as to the results, whilst being good losers and gracious winners. This in itself caught the eye of the guys in Group Three. When Group Three also got a sense of the positive and friendly atmosphere afforded to new teams, it became much easier for those guys to persuade the guildies to try some 8v8 ranked. They could, in good conscience, promise that they won’t get laughed it, that it will be fun and (because of the forums thread) they knew of people on both fleets that they could talk to about good times to queue etc.

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8v8 Ranked on TRE Part 1 (Why our server was better than yours)

Introduction:
Interested in the player involvement which SWTOR has always seemed to need to get ranked PvP off it’s feet I decided to ask Mylex to write us something about his own experiences on the subject. In the days of ranked 8v8 (despite heavy imbalance between classes and a shrinking PvP population on the server) Mylex and a few others made the competitive PvP scene a dynamic experience. This was done through tireless networking and forum activity. Here’s what happened!
-Noctua

8v8 Ranked on TRE Part 1 – Why our server was better than yours!

Okay, maybe not. But it was good and we went from virtually zero activity to 5-10 teams in the queue each day, which was unusual for the PVP servers and unheard of on the other PVE servers. It was also a great time to play on The Red Eclipse, but it was a long road to get that point.

And this is the story…

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