January 27, 2012 – 7:25 am
I was reading a post the other day from Ask a Jedi, about how his characters in other games had places that felt like “home”, where in Star Wars they kind of didn’t.
It’s a good post, and an interesting one in terms of game design.
In WoW, each race has its own “flavor” for the first 10 levels (especially now that Gnomeregan and the Echo Isles are complete). You really have a very specific feel and lore that helps set up who your character is. You’re level 1, and you feel like it. There’s even a quest that welcomes your character into the “fold” of your class, sent as a note from the trainer. This adds a lot to the feeling of “home”, as does the fact that each race has a city (or a chunk of a city) as their main base and political capitol.
Star Wars has chosen to have the entry points be synchronized by class, and have two classes share each starting zone. I’ve only played through Tython at this point (twice…), but the lore and the quest text are set up so that you’re already an accomplished force user when you begin. It’s not so much a feeling of learning something new as it is furthering a profession you’re already an accepted part of. The smuggler intro text also fits this mold.
Plus, since Star Wars isn’t about the various races, but simply about being part of the Republic or part of the Empire, there’s only one major “city hub” per faction. It’s not seen as critical in the progress of the game whether your character is a Mirialan or a Zabrak or a Human. You’re part of the Empire/Republic, and that’s where your major story-based allegiances lie.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t do your own thing. I ended up creating a backstory for Aely that tells me about who she was before she began Jedi training, and well before she ended up on Tython. I needed her to feel like she had a “home” – and to some extent not being able to have that home be in the game is a little sad. Even though “loss of homeland” is a big part of her core character in both games, it was easier when she can still go to the ruins of Lordaeron than it is when she’s just from some now-wrecked outer-planet moon somewhere.
I’m inherently looking for that feeling of “belonging” on Ana’leth and Annata as well, especially since Annata is a very neutral minded smuggler type, who isn’t extremely pro-Republic. Having her be part of the Coruscant Trade Company will hopefully help. Maybe that’s one of the benefits of RP guilds in Star Wars – they offer a place to call “home”, even if it’s just a cantina somewhere or a particular ship. For me, there’s always places in the game that feel like they’re “mine” or part of my characters after awhile, and I’ve not yet felt that in Star Wars.
I’ve also seen some arguments (in a similar vein) that Warcraft has the feeling that the whole planet, the whole world is -thisclose- to falling apart. Everywhere you turn, there’s wars and disaster and marauding giant bugs and zombies and who knows what else. Usually the comparison is that the Star Wars Galaxy is HUGE, and you only fight on very small portions of it, which implies that the other parts of the galaxy are relatively stable, and that average people live average lives doing whatever it is they do.
I don’t think this is entirely a fair comparison, because a farmer wanting you to get rid of the wolves that are stealing his sheep is not the same level of conflict as is, say, a zombie invasion, and having the farmer there in the first place is world-expanding. Presumably the farmer is there being a farmer, and just picks up the outside help dealing with wolves when he needs it.
Plus, in Star Wars, you don’t get to SEE the other places in the world. The peaceful areas are only implied. Aside from cantinas, there’s not a lot of open world that’s available for RP. Admittedly some of that may be because I’ve just dug myself out of Coruscant, which was NOT my favorite place, but the zones so far in Star Wars feel very focused – there’s not a lot of sprawl with pretty vistas to admire. Not much stopping to smell the roses, if you will.
The two comparisons seem, in my mind, related.
They’re both about the level at which the game sucks you in on a character level – not by creating a pressing and demanding storyline, but by making your character truly feel like they’re an inherent part of the world. That they belong – not that they’re important (those are different things).
Having your character feel like they have a place in the game to call home adds to that feeling of belonging. So does experiencing both the big conflicts and the small ones that create depth in a world.
What sorts of worldbuilding helps your character feel like he or she belongs or has a home? Does it matter to you at all?
January 24, 2012 – 8:11 am
I redid my gems. I re-reforged. I redid my keybinds. I set up clique and totem timers.
And then we went to Firelands.
My first foray as a healer wasn’t horrible though, once I remembered I had Healing Rain (which is probably the biggest change to how I’m used to playing a shaman healer). In fact, I even started to get the rhythm of the various fights once we were halfway through.
Of course, we were half overgeared for it, which didn’t hurt, but I didn’t wipe the raid. (/relief) Unfortunately the two people we were intending to gear up didn’t get a single upgrade. Also Rhyolith kept bugging on us, which was frustrating. But I’ve officially healed a raid now.
This seems to have made me officially a “real healer” again, because as soon as I got to Stormwind, I got a whisper:
would u like 2 heal for bwd?
Thursday we’re going to do some LFR fun, since we’ve still got two characters that aren’t ready for Dragon Soul, but all in all I’m feeling more like I’ll at least be competent with the heal buttons again.
January 23, 2012 – 7:59 am
I don’t have a witty ending to that statement. But it would probably be something like “… the writer gets a beer.”
Anyway, what happens when you want to be writing, but the ideas won’t come? When you have a character that needs attention but no ficlets to write?
Sometimes things just need to incubate a little longer. Wait a bit and see what happens. Sometimes, however, even with waiting, you have the desire to write and no concrete direction to take your writing.
I suffer from this a lot. It’s why I don’t write novels – I don’t really do well with big ideas. I get fragments and then can’t plot them into something coherent. To tell the truth, I can’t plot my way out of a brown paper sack. (This is a reason I often write fic with friends. I’m good at execution, but not always great with the ideas. This way I can pick their brains. I’m like a plot zombie.)
There are a few cures for assorted brain block that I like.
Brainstorming is good – and I like using something like Tami’s method of mind mapping. She explains it really well, but basically when you sit down and you think you have no ideas, just start writing things down. Tami does this in a notebook, I usually do it in a word document. I type faster than I write, and as pro-handwriting as I am, it just works better for me to be thinking in text instead of trying to scribble things out fast enough. In the end, I get something like a long list of items, many with bullet points.
Frequently when I do this, I sit down with no ideas and turn around and have five or ten. Poof! Like magic. Not all those ideas will turn into fic, but that doesn’t matter. The point is to get them written down.
If I’m feeling particularly stuck on how to start, I usually do something like freewriting (sometimes I do this after I brainstorm a bit, to give me a direction).
Freewriting is especially useful if I have a character who is being shy about showing up. I just start typing, regardless of where it might be in the overall story or whether it’s “good” or not, and see what happens. The two posts that are upcoming from Annata got started this way. I’m not the best writer when it comes to roguish things and close combat – I am inherently un-sneaky. Sneaky things intimidate me as a writer. Writing these ficlets, I decided that if I needed sneaky, I’d just let Annata do it. So I just started writing. Both times the initial trepidation wore off once the actual character got into her stride, and I’m pleased with the final turnout. *
More than anything else, I talk with other writers. Sometimes just getting ideas out in conversation is enough to spark a whole series of ficlets. (I try to make sure I’m available for idea-bouncing as well, since it’s only fair to return the favor.)
All of these methods work for blogging, or any kind of writing really. The idea is to get around your inner editor, who rejects ideas before you get a chance to explore them. Letting your brain wander through your fingers is therapeutic, in a way, since it bypasses the critical response that so frequently kills writerly motivation. For me, they get the most use in getting me started on writing ficlets.
What are your tricks for the “getting started” part of writing? How do you break through whatever brain blocks you have to get things written, be they blog post, ficlet, or novel?
*The Heads I Win ficlets will be posted here later this week. I’m still working on the last bit, and how it fits into the greater guild story.
January 20, 2012 – 11:04 am
So my as yet nameless raid* is going through another reset cycle. We’ve lost a few people, are raiding on a new night, etc.
One of the people we lost was our paladin healer.
As such, since I like my raid and want to keep raiding, I offered to swap Annorah over to healing (and Yva will be swapping to paladin healing).
To put this into context, the last time I healed anything other than myself while questing, I was running LFD at the end of Wrath with my priest. Which means it’s been more than two years since I healed, closer to FOUR years since I healed as a Shaman (though I may have healed a Naxx run or two, I don’t remember…)
My healer instincts are, hopefully, still around, but I’m pretty sure the skill is gone. Thankfully, shaman healing doesn’t seem too terribly different than it’s been in the past, especially for raid healing, so I’m hoping that transition goes well. (Also, what would we do without EJ? Their resto shaman thread has a “Help! I’m elemental and need to fill in for our missing healer in 5 minutes!” section that was a total lifesaver toward getting me started.)
Also thankfully, my gear is pretty balanced with +Spirit on it (since elemental shamans convert spirit into hit), so other than picking up my 2 piece Tier 12, which I should be able to do with little difficulty running heroics, I’m not in bad shape gear wise. This is primarily why I didn’t switch to Aely – as much as it would mean only one character having to switch, Paladin healing is both a) more difficult and b) would require a /complete/ gear up. Aely’s got about 348 ilevel ret gear, and that’s it.
I feel a little sheepish that I’ve gotten so out of practice, to be honest, but mentally I really needed a break from healing. So now I have until next Thursday to figure out how to push buttons again.
Just keybind everything to chain heal and roll my face on the keyboard, right?
*When TRI splits down into 10 mans, we’re no longer just Totally Raids, Inc. We’re TRI *something*. The Saturday 10 man is TRI Hangover (since they raid in the morning and are, occasionally, hungover). Our raid now runs Thursday evenings – at the same time as the third TRI 10 man raid. Both Thursday raids are working on Ultraxion, which is kind of cool. Anyway, we don’t have a name yet. Because we’re bads and haven’t thought of one. Suggestions are, of course, accepted.
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