Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling reports from the front lines* of the Massively Multiplayer Multiverse.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Alexandria Initiative: The Will (Revised & Expanded)

By way of introduction, this is my entry into the first phase of the "Alexandria Initiative" writing contest, a fan-organized contest with venues on the The Secret Forums and councilofvenice.tumblr.com. It's an expansion of a story I previously posted here, but I hope you enjoy it.
~~~
Most people go through life on a sort of autopilot. Not that they can't make decisions, they just don't—beyond the trivial. They have no problem deciding what shirt to wear in the morning, but then simply fall into love affairs, careers . . . parenthood; perhaps even believing they are happy. They lack the Will to do otherwise. They follow instructions, they do what they're told. These are the sort you find are easily turned. They succumb to the Will of other, more powerful, forces, like sheep for the shearing—or cattle to the slaughter—realizing too late that they've never had the option in the first place.
A rare few have the power to exert their Will—their "Anima"—to withstand the influences of forces beyond the capacity of the rest to comprehend, or even perceive. In a population of billions, they number perhaps in the thousands. These few "Animated" individuals are all that stand between the sheep and the long cold night of oblivion.

"It's like shooting fish in a barrel," Xander Hayes quipped. The blond, blue-eyed Canadian took aim at the barnacle-encrusted behemoth over the sea wall where he and Sam had taken cover. Whereas Sam's rifle was a up-converted M4 MWS, Hayes sported an Orochi Occultech rifle. ("I like to call it Hard Rain," he'd said.) On semi-auto, he made short work of the incubators that had begun to advance on their position. Sam focused on the big one. The red and gray creature screamed in pain and anger, recoiling briefly before renewing its advance.
Unlike the soggy former residents of Kingsmouth, the beast they fought now was clearly from the depths. It towered at least four meters, with giant lobster claws and a gaping, saw-toothed maw in its torso. And still it advanced, despite Sam emptying a full clip into it. Almost within striking distance, it reared up.
"Time to go," said Hayes, as he dodged to his right, out of the blast wave. Sam wasn't so quick, and the spray of water knocked her on her back. Chunks of seawall went flying. Sputtering, she looked up as the creature raised its claw to impale her. The small hairs on her arms stood on end as a tendril of brilliant white flashed into view, enveloping the creature and causing it to seize up for an instant. Momentarily forgetting Sam, it turned toward the source of its new pain, Xander. As it lumbered toward him, Sam dragged out her own claws and leapt onto the beast's back.
She failed to gain purchase and tumbled off. The Canadian was driving fireballs into the creature's maw. Sam jumped again—more determined this time—and drove her claws into the creature's back, using them to climb higher. The beast screamed in pain and anger, but Sam made it to the shoulders. With one set of claws embedded for leverage, she stabbed into the creature's head with the other. Over and over, she drove in her claws as the beast flailed its pincers, unable to reach her. Xander kept up his fiery assault as the creature stumbled and fell.
The impact threw Sam clear of the carcass. As she lay there trying to catch her breath, Xander came and stood over her.
"You all right?" he asked, lending a hand to help her up.
"Yeah, I think so." She looked down at her slacks and jacket, formerly so professorial, now drenched in seawater and gore.
"You ever read Harry Potter?"
She looked at the Canadian askance. "Yes, why?"
"Remember what it said about the Killing Curse, Avada Kedrava? You've got to mean it! I don't think you meant it until you got up on that beast's back."
"Yeah, I guess you're right," Sam answered, bemused by his mispronunciation of the infamous spell.
Hayes peered at Sam intently. "I'm telling you, when you really mean it, you won't even need bullets in that gun." He then flashed her a grin. "Meanwhile, you'd better reload."

Samantha sat near the back of the local church. She wasn't religious, too much time spent studying the influence of dogmas on history. But now, she'd seen the realities behind a few of the myths, terrifying realities. She needed time to think, and the sanctuary seemed an appropriate place to mull things over. She stared at the business card Xander had given her, inviting her to a meeting in London. "Beyond the Veil," it read, promising further knowledge, perhaps? But the last time she accepted such an invitation, she'd fallen down a deeper rabbit hole than she could possibly have imagined.
The local pastor, the Reverend Henry Hawthorne, came and sat beside her in the pew.
"You seem a little more thoughtful than many of my current crop of visitors, my dear. What's on your mind?"
"What isn't on my mind? My world has been turned upside down. Just days ago I was a simple college professor. Now I am expected to take up arms in some conflict I knew nothing of before. Not just some cold war between ancient conspiracies that pull the strings on world politics, but a fight for existence against even more ancient things that care nothing for the petty power plays of the human race. We may as well be warring ant colonies. I don't know what to make of the creatures we face out there. The dead rising, but not alive. Lovecraftian sea monsters. What's next, giant insects and walking scarecrows?"
"Actually I have heard rumors," he answered, scratching his chin absently. "But never mind that. The surviving townsfolk are grateful for your help. With enough—special—reinforcements, perhaps we can stem the tide and bury our dead."
"How can we fight this?" she asked. She shook her head. "How can we possibly hope to win against a relentless bombardment that drives us mad and can't be killed?"
The pastor stared up at the altar, pondering. She followed his gaze to the candles burning there.
"You know the funny thing about Darkness?" Hawthorne asked, then answered his own question. "It can be driven away by the light of a single flame. You know, at its heart, that is the creed of the Illuminati, the Enlightened Ones."
He held up his Bible. "The Good Book is full of such imagery. 'Ye are the light of the world… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.'
"The World is a dark place, my dear. Shadowy forces seek to destroy it, to devour it whole. But Gaia is strong, she calls forth bright warriors to fight the Darkness. Of course, we may disagree on how that battle should be fought, and who should lead it. But the Three will prevail, complementing each other's strengths while compensating for each other's weaknesses. Rest assured of that."
~~~
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Temptations

My computer has been unusable for gaming for almost two weeks now. I can still surf and type, etc., but playing Landmark is difficult and TSW and even Dragon Age are out of the question. And it's my own fault, really.
 
Meanwhile, people are loving TESO, which I did not like even when my computer was in fine working order (based on a few hours on beta weekends (BTW the UI supplanted my dislike of the subscription as the main reason I decided not to buy the game)). But not having other games to play makes TESO all the more tempting, against my better judgment.

Honestly I feel left out, because it seems all my friends are playing something that I can't. Even though I chose not to play when I did have the option.
~~~
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Claim Dilemma

Syl, the MMO Gypsy, has a post up today about losing her claim in Landmark, along with advice for both SOE and players on how that might be avoided in the future. Unfortunately, the same thing happened to Scooter last week due to an odd schedule and just general busy-ness. In the meantime, while I have diligently logged on to maintain my claim, my gimped computer makes it a chore to do anything more than mine and pay the piper. My actual claim sits unimproved.
With thanks to Quinterra for the beautiful screenshot.
Syl describes the stickiness of "owning" property in a game that keeps people coming back regularly. While I cannot disagree with her observation, my very fun forays into Dimensions in Rift and Housing in EQ2 did not ultimately keep me in those games. I also found the concept of upkeep a little manipulative. Keeping up my property in the real world is enough of a chore. I would prefer not to transfer that sense of obligation to my virtual one. I realize that seems in conflict with the concept of Landmark in the first place.

Perhaps I am in a rare position. With no developed property, I am only attached to my claim due to the pleasant view on a sentimentally named island. And while I am eager to develop my character through his tools, I worry that changes to the game as they introduce new systems will render much of my current efforts moot anyway.

So my dilemma is:
  • Do I continue to pay upkeep on an empty lot, that my lovely bride may or may not be able to stake another claim next to?
  • Or do I let it lapse and wait until we both have more time and good equipment, or SOE revises the upkeep to be more forgiving, or both?
~~~
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Walkabout

Interesting things happen when you go on a walk just before dawn. There is a certain magick at that hour. The world starts out dark, but there's a glow in the east. Today, there was almost complete overcast, though. The only sounds are maybe a few crickets, the occasional car, and some dogs barking as I pass. But I walk on. I live in a well-established neighborhood, where the trees are mature and the houses are not built with a cookie cutter. I can imagine fae folk playing amongst the foliage of the darkened yards, like one of those fantasy worlds I spent much of my leisure time in. But they vanish if I try to spy them directly, so I walk on.
http://www.desk7.net/wallpapers.aspx?typeid=6190
As I wend my way through the wooded streets, the sun makes itself known. A school bus passes, then I see a mom and her kids running toward the corner where the bus turned. I hope they didn't miss it. But I walk on. Suddenly, within the last ten minutes of my short journey, birds burst out in song. The rising, repeating cacophony of a hundred calls, cheering on the day, looking for a mate.

Their melodies and counterpoints carry me home where I must get ready to go spend the day in a box that looks much like the boxes of my cohorts—staring at a glowing screen instead of soaring with my winged friends. Waiting again to walk in the dawn.
~~~
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

BtV Tier 84: April Fools!!!

I missed the fun last week, but here are links to the latest Remastered Tier of Beyond the Veil. Tier 84 is full of early April hijinks, as the rest of the BtV crew discusses the latest equal opportunity fashions, as well as the latest Game Director's Letter from Joel Bylos, mysteriously still dated from March. Listen in on the fun, and don't forget we webcast again tonight, when I'm sure the latest Investigation Missions pack will the toast of the show.

You can wait for me to post about our latest remastered episodes. . .
Or you can subscribe to the show through Holosuite Media's RSS feed, through iTunes (with older episodes here), and through Stitcher. You can catch the live show tonight and every Thursday at about 7p.m. EDT (11p.m. UTC) on Holosuite Excess. Beyond the Veil is produced by "Xander Hayes" and Holosuite Media.
~~~
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.