Rants tag

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

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

DAW2015: I Am TSW

What is DAW?
Dang! it's already Tuesday of Developer Appreciation Week, and other than soliciting posts from my fellow bloggers on Friday, I haven't really done much. I blame the folks that actually pay my wage. Busy, busy day yesterday.
A few years ago, not long after I started blogging, the MMO Gamer Chick brought to my attention the efforts of The Blogger Formerly Known as Scarybooster. He set aside a Week every March to explicitly show Appreciation for the Developers who make our favorite games, and encouraged other bloggers to make similar posts to their blogs. Since then, TBFKaS, has decided to shed his "Bad Boy of the Blogosphere" image, but the spirit of DAW lives on. I hope if you're reading this, you make a post, on whatever soapbox you use, thanking the Devs of your favorite game(s).

Funcom, The Secret World
In the summer of 2012, I played the public beta for a new game, different than any other MMO I'd been involved with, from the setting (Modern-Day Lovecraftian Horror?!) to the character progression system (Take a spin on the Ability Wheel of fortune!). It is perhaps a tribute to the abilities of Ragnar Tornquist, Joel Bylos, and their team that they built a game that thoroughly enthralled me in a fictional genre that does not really appeal to me at all.

I am more attached to my characters in TSW than I am to other characters I spent much more time with. With deep backstories (of my own creation), they move through stories crafted by Joshua "Scrivnomancer" Doetch that are are creepy and wonderful. Romain "Tilty" Amiel and the rest of the TSW dev team have created an astonishingly detailed world, depending in part on our own, but incorporating our legends and myths into a credible cosmos of horror, intrigue, and grand adventure. A realm that is both in the now and firmly rooted in our own often nightmarish folklore.
Thanks to my association with the crew from Beyond the Veil, I have had opportunities to interact with Joel, Scriv, Tilty, and the community managers Laurie "Sezmra" Payne, "Tomium," and (formerly) "Morteia." They are all gracious folks, working hard to bring us a little scary and a lot of fun. Even though I am not currently playing, some of the best times in my life during the past three years—and certainly the best times playing MMOs during the same period—are thanks to these wonderful people and the effort they have made to make my hobby more enjoyable. Damn if I am not going to have to re-up now.
P.S. Belghast, of Tales of the Aggronaut, has made another logo for Developer Appreciation Week. Feel free to use either mine at the top of the post or his when you write your own DAW post.
~~~
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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.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Axes to Grind

This rumination might ramble a little more than others.

Why'd You Have to Be So Mean?

Belghast is wondering when it became so "hip to be mean." Games are supposed to bring people joy, or at the very least some form of relaxation. Granted that there are many ways to relax—some folks like to lay on a beach, while others only yards away enjoy riding the waves. Some people spend their game time fishing, while others enjoy pitting their skills against each other in various forms of mock combat. But at some point, it became de rigueur to criticize—to judge—the pastimes of others. We accuse people of cheating when their playstyle or resources are different than ours. From our armchairs, we criticize the decisions of creators, athletes, and performers we can't possibly hope to emulate.
There’s a huge number of gamers out there who don't comment on websites, who don't know the ins and outs of the industry, who don’t care about who’s who. They don't know or care how exactly or technically games work. They're just interested in the experience of playing them. And I think that there is a hundredfold more of those people than the thousands who get paid to talk about games and write about games and the tens of thousands who leave shitty, nasty comments on game blogs and elsewhere.
~~An anonymous game developer on Don't Die
Politics Don't Only Happen in the Capitol

I can sympathize with game developers. I work in an industry, on a project, that always seems to be getting bad press. Some of it is perhaps deserved—we do a lot of internal critiquing ourselves—but much of it is not. The criticism is more about unrealistic expectations than any actual failing of the project. It's compared unfavorably to products that don't possess half the features, by people with their own axes to grind. Perhaps it suffers a bit from feature creep. Ultimately, it represents years of effort by people who just want to make the best product they can with the resources they've been given.

So many of us, and now I'm talking more narrowly about gamers, and particularly the gaming commentariat, come from a history of being bullied. And yet how quick are we to become the bullies ourselves? How often have we declared that someone not playing the way we do are doing it wrong? I have found myself on that bandwagon all too often. We become so defensive about our own interests that we wind up tearing down the interests of others. When we like a game, it becomes the delicious chocolate dish that everyone should love. But if we don't like it, we can't imagine why anyone would. And, therefore, those that do must be mentally defective in some way.

Look Beyond the Monkeysphere

We forget that these people are actually people. They have hopes and dreams, and hurts and difficulties, just like we do. We forget the long hours they devote to their endeavors, only to have someone come along and criticize, whether it's developers working on a game, or players playing it. We forget that those "evil" corporations are mostly just a bunch of people trying to make a living for themselves and their families. We forget that those other players may not have as much time as we do, or maybe not as much money. Or maybe they have some disability that simply makes it harder to play the game. Or, possibly, they just don't prioritize their lives and their game time the way we do.

I guess what it boils down to is that I think we should have a little less pride in our own supposed abilities or accomplishments and a little more empathy for one another.

Show a Little Appreciation
Someone I consider a good friend started something a few years ago he called Developer Appreciation Week. He wanted to shed a more positive light on the industry. I don't think anything like that has been organized this year, so you know what? I am declaring this coming week to be DEVELOPER APPRECIATION WEEK. If you're a blogger reading this, I encourage you to spend at least one post between tomorrow, 28 March, and next Saturday, 4 April, expressing your appreciation for those hard working people that make your life a little more enjoyable creating the games you play. And spread the word about DAW, because you reach people that I do not. If you do such a post, please send me the link either in the comments below or on Twitter. I will do an index post next week.
~~~
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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.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Another Gamer Survey!

Thanks to Ysharros, I discovered and participated in a new survey/study (follow this one) being conducted by Nick Yee of the Daedalus Project. It brought up some interesting questions, though I often wonder if the way I answer these things may lead to misinterpretation of the data. That is, do I overstate understate my preference or agreement with certain questions/issues?

For example, a very long time ago, I participated in a survey at my elementary school—maybe by The Mini Page, or The Weekly Reader?—in which one of the "drug" questions asked if I had ever sniffed glue. I happen to like the smell of (Elmer's) white glue, so I marked yes. As you may be aware, Dear Reader, sniffing glue is a way to get high. I was not aware of this at the time I took the survey. However, months later, when I read the survey results, it was clearer that was the intended question.

Years later, during college, I worked for a market research company conducting many different types of surveys over the phone (I promise I was not a telemarketer). I once got in trouble for terminating a telephone interview when it became obvious to me that the person I called was not qualified to complete the survey, even they had not answered the demographic question directly. I quit the job shortly thereafter. Looking back, I feel like maybe I should have fought the reprimand up the chain; but honestly, it was not really worth it to me.

The danger I see with drawing certain conclusions from surveys, especially those conducted online, is that the surveyor is generally unable to clarify the intent of the question, and therefore also unable to clarify the intent of the answer.
~~~
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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.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

These are the Voyages of the U.S.S. K'uu-ch'ish. . .

Soaring over the YucatanIt seems like I was doing this just last week.

My Borg EngineerCaptain's Personal Log, Stardate 92827.72: It seems like I barely even got a chance to pin on my fourth pip, and already my senior staff and I are transferring to a new ship, the Cochise. It's beefier than the Crazy Horse, with a much larger crew and the latest weapon systems available. In addition, I have a new crew member, Cmdr Remei Castell, a liberated Borg who is a wizard at starship engineering. (Ginny isn't exactly happy about it, but that has nothing to do with Cmdr Castell's abilities.) Apparently, the task ahead is more hazardous and important than Starfleet had originally thought. On the other hand, I can't help wondering if the recent business with the Devidians and Section 31 may not also have something to do with my sudden promotion. In any event, after getting outfitted for anticipated contingencies, we'll be leaving Earth Spacedock yet again for Romulan territory, and from there, who knows?

Making Modifications in Spacedock
Named after a great chief of the Chiricahua Apache in 19th century Arizona, the U.S.S. K'uu-ch'ish, NCC-93054, is a Patrol Escort, one of two escort variants available to Rear Admirals, Lower Half; this one an extra engineering console and ensign bridge position.

Plaque Dedication: "We will make peace; we will keep it faithfully. But let us go around free. . ."~~Chief K'uu-chi'ish. As with the namesakes of all Locke's Escort ships, K'uu-ch'ish (or Cochise) led his warrior band in hostilities against the encroaching United States.

As always, I spent way too much time with the various combinations before settling on what you see. I almost dumped the center pylon "wings," but kept them so as to display the Federation News Service logo. The Sagittarius/Virgo paint scheme keeps the vaguely warpaint look, while adding some "southwest" motives. As an escort, I felt the ship needed a darker appearance, making it harder to see in open space.

Multi-Glow
It took me a little over a week to level up through the Captain levels, partly from learning to use the Duty Officer System. Six of those levels were on Saturday, and the last on Sunday. Every time I completed a mission from "Spectres" (the Devidian episode), I got another level. Come to think of it, the only other story stuff I've done on Locke since returning to STO is the "Temporal Ambassador" mission left over from the Third Anniversary event, involving the crew of the Enterprise-C. I'll bet DTI just loves Locke's mission reports. After paupering myself to replace weapons and consoles still on hand from when Locke was a lieutenant commander, I took K'uu-ch'ish on a shakedown cruise into a Borg incursion daily. She handles pretty well, and seems to have plenty of firepower. But I did blow up a few times when I drew too much attention to myself.
Kaboom!
~~~
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Thursday, March 19, 2015

These are the Voyages of the U.S.S. Crazy Horse. . .

Captain's Log, 92803.64, Donovan T. Locke recording: After a successful tour of duty on the Klingon Front, I have received a promotion to Captain and a new commission, the Vigilant Class U.S.S. Crazy Horse. Accordingly, I have recommended for promotion and invited all of my senior staff to the new ship. With a total crew of only 50, we have a tighter focus as we head into Romulan territory. The Republic is allied with the Federation, and our mission is to counter the efforts of other factions—most notably Sela's "Empire"—to destabilize New Romulus.
The U.S.S. Crazy Horse, NCC-93330-A, is a Tactical Escort (TE), Vigilant Class, with a Gallant "Saucer," Gallant Refit Nacelles and "Pylons," and a Vigilant Refit Hull with a red and green Virgo paint scheme.

Plaque Dedication: "All we wanted was peace and to be left alone."~~Chief Crazy Horse

I put some of the terms in quotes because the STO customization system designated them thus, but they don't serve the same structural functions as the corresponding parts on other ships. The "saucer" is simply the small forward section that houses the deflector on the Defiant-like TEs (the forward section painted with a chevron in the picture above). The "pylons," rather than holding the nacelles away from the ship, are small weapons modules (shown on either side of the bow of the ship). Unlike most of the TEs, the Gallant "saucer" is a bit stubby, being slightly recessed in the Vigilant refit hull. I like the way this ship looks a bit like scarab beetle. I did not purchase the refit ship in the C-store, but for some reason, I have access to the TE refit skins.
I really like the handling of the Tactical Escort, which apparently has the best turn rate of all "large" ships in the game. Most of the my current loadout consists of hand-me-downs from my last two ships, but I am replacing them as time and credits permit.
~~~
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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.