January 31, 2012 – 7:37 am
I am, officially, strange. Not that this is news to any of you, but I was reminded of it again this week while playing Ana’leth and Annata.
I like content better the second time I complete it. When I’m new to a zone, I don’t know what to expect, and I tend to miss a lot of stuff for being either overcareful or surprised by things all the time. When I get to someplace a second time, I have an idea how it’s going to go, and I can sit back and enjoy the game a lot more.
This is true in whatever game, it seems. WoW, Diablo, SWTOR, Torchlight. It’s not that I like to know exactly how everything is going to go…
Wait actually? That’s kinda it.
I like to know in advance how things are going to go. It gives me more time to react to them in character, among other things. I’m also a lot less likely to get lost or turned around. And I learn which quests are going to make me want to pull my hair out too, so I can skip them. It goes faster, but with more time to take breaks and think about character interaction.
In short, I like re-doing old content a lot more than I like running dungeons for gear at max level. Not surprising when you consider the stable of alts I keep around.
Unfortunately I’ve not hit the enjoyment mark with Cataclysm content, though. I’ve been having a lot of fun with Annata in Outland, and I’m looking forward to Northrend, but I still can’t seem to get Aely!Priest and Annie Mae out of Hyjal. At least with rested XP it’s a bit faster. Perhaps I need some deadlines or goals or something!
Either way though, it means I have to remember not to make my mind up too much about new content until I’ve done it at least twice. I always feel disgruntled when I’m stuck on stuff or things seem really slow because it’s the first time I’m doing them, regardless of the game. I truly HATED Outland the first time I went through it (for both content and social reasons, I was getting whispers to heal things every 15 minutes, even when I was not actually in Outland). Now some of my favorite zones in the game are there (Zangarmarsh, Nagrand).
So even though I’m not feeling particularly sucked into and immersed in Star Wars, I’m not making my mind up yet. I need to run it at least twice before I decide. Now I just have to remember to log in, instead of doing more on my WoW alts…
January 30, 2012 – 7:28 am
On Wednesday, Annata prepared.
Clothing was casually purchased in Goldshire, a few herbs in Westfall. She used the extra time to make sure various poisons were ready as well, not that she thought she’d need them, but you could never be too careful.
She read and reread the notes she’d taken:
“Twenty years old, human male, short red hair, average height, solid build. Tanner Circle, sunset”
When it came near to sunset, she put together the first disguise and went to see about buying bread in Tanner Circle.
The woman who left her apartment was easily in her late 60’s, hair mostly grey, tied back in a kerchief. She was plump in the middle and wearing well mended clothing, laugh lines crinkling around her eyes and mouth. She carried a basket in one arm, with another on her back, as she walked the streets.
Arriving at Tanner Circle just before six, she found the bread merchant busily sorting through loaves. It was probably an hour before sunset, and the square bustled with people going to and from homes and jobs, purchasing food for that night’s dinner. The pub on the far corner was picking up a fair crowd as well.
She winked at the baker. “Hullo dear, what’s best for an old Nana today?”
He didn’t notice. “The sourdough, though I still have a few baguettes.”
“I’ll take two sourdough loaves then, of course, and one of those baguettes. Figure if there’s a few left, I might as well enjoy the treat!” Handing over a few coins, she wrapped up the two loaves and tucked them in the basket on her back, before tearing off a chunk of the baguette. It was slightly stale.
It took a bit of time to locate Trias’ little cheese cart and a fruit cart as well, and she allowed herself to get sucked in by the herb seller, ending up with a large handful of fresh sage and thyme. Using the knives hidden under her ample belly would have made eating the cheese a lot easier, but that was, of course, too obvious. Instead she opted for breaking off a hunk, finding a few old crates to sit on, and settling in to watch.
Her target showed up just as the clock struck six-thirty, coming in from the eastern side of the square. He had two others with him, both with the odd, strung out look so common to those addicted to lotus, but the red haired man seemed well aware of his surroundings.
All three of them went to the bar, but her target left shortly after, leaving Annata sitting in the deepening dark.
She left the tiny lantern in her basket, thankful for the gas lamps lining the street, and watched him as he continued straight up Dryden as far as she could see without moving. A similar looking man passed through the open plaza a few moments later, heading towards Landen, but she couldn’t be sure it was the right one or not.
The two friends finally left the little pub around eight and walked down Bulwarks Street towards the canals.
The little old woman on the crates lit her lantern and walked home.
On subsequent days, Annata took advantage of her preparation.
On Thursday a college student in the magical arts was seen in Tanner Circle, idly practicing something that didn’t look to be going well, his robes ill fitting and magic-blasted. On Friday, a pregnant woman stopped by the flower cart just after six o’clock. On Saturday it rained, and so she sat in the bar and talked with the barkeeper. On Sunday, an old soldier with a pronounced limp went there to buy herbs.
Each disguise kept her mind busy as she created characters in her head.
The student was book smart but had no common sense and drank too many shots at the bar, or so it seemed. The pregnant woman’s feet turned out and she leaned backward in a sort of uneasy walk that suggested she really didn’t need to be walking all the way to the square, but damn if she didn’t want flowers. The old soldier really needed painkillers, and didn’t anyone have any help for an old woman with a rotted out hip?
She started to piece together the story of the man she was following.
The student tripped and fell in front of a group of men at the bar, who laughed at him wildly for drinking too much. Her target saw the fall and left the bar. The pregnant woman was advised not to take the bruiseweed flowers, for fear they might start her labor early. The target was nearby, but said nothing. The old soldier’s plea for a stronger painkiller was obviously overheard, but earned her only a sidelong glance from a woman in the crowd – the target wasn’t anywhere nearby that she had seen.
Each day she saw a little more of the red haired man.
The barkeep referred to him as Augie or Oggy or Oogie or something of that nature. He wasn’t ever alone, though sometimes he followed behind one or two others and sometimes he had company actually with him. He never left via the south end of the Circle, always heading North or West, usually down Dryden or Bulwarks, and often he made two or three passes through.
And so, by Monday, she was ready to tail him properly.
Of course, it rained. Thick, heavy drops threatened to run down the back of her boots, soaking the hood of her cloak and deadening the sounds of the usually vibrant square. It was already dark when the clock rang six and her target came into view, this time tailing a thin looking man with glasses and a tweedy jacket.
Don’t you look ever the accountant…
She stepped into the shadows to watch them cross the square, the usual six o’clock crowd thinned out by the perpetually dismal dripping. Out of nowhere, two teenagers came bolting through the streets, shouting. The first cleared the square without incident, but his friend – or enemy, it wasn’t clear – careened directly into the little money-peddling lotus dealer that Augie was trailing, sending both of them sprawling into the street.
In a matter of seconds the teenager found himself on his back in the rain, staring up into the face of a man who looked, for all extents and purposes, murderous. Augie knelt down next to him, and, but for the arm planted squarely in the young man’s chest, appeared to be trying to help. He waited until the seedy man was safely into the bar.
The young man struggled. “Let me up!”
“You gotta problem?”
“What? Let me go!”
“Not until you tell me what’s your problem. Don’t make me ask again.” He pushed harder, his hand inching up towards the man’s throat.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. It was an accident! I swear! I slipped and… and…”
Annata stepped in. “Are you alright? Do I need to call a medic?”
Instantly Augie stepped back. “I think he’ll be alright. He just needs to… be. more. careful.” The last three words dripped venom. With a snort, he turned and walked toward the pub.
The young man scrambled to his feet with her assistance. “Are you going to be alright?”
“Yeah I’m fine. What the hell?”
“Don’t worry about it, he’s an asshole. Just be careful where you’re running. Old Town ain’t as safe as she used to be.”
“You sound like my mum. Thanks lady.” After giving her a withering look, he trotted back the way he came.
She caught a glimpse of Augie leaving the square, headed up Sorefoot.
Now, let’s see where you really go all these evenings…
She tailed him up Sorefoot, past Thane’s boots and the Silver Shield, and into the Canal district. Then across the bridge, and around the Dwarven district, back to Old Town. He looped around that way several times, and slowly edging his way towards the harbor, finally sidling into another little pub – a wooden dolphin sign proclaiming it as The Flipper – and Annata paused, ducking behind some crates that smelled of rancid shellfish.
The rain doubled its efforts, thunder crackling overhead.
Time to wait.
January 27, 2012 – 9:09 am
Having done a few RaidFinder groups, I’m starting to notice patterns. Sadly, they’re not really GOOD patterns. For whatever reason, the players who show up, do their jobs, get loot and go on their merry way don’t seem to stick out in LFR. On the other hand, the ones that DO stick out tend to be… memorable.
And so I present to you, the people of Raid Finder:
- Guys I’m SO baked – drunk, high, stoned, exhausted, or otherwise generally mentally incapacitated. Probably still trying to main tank too.
- Walking Taunt Button – taunts everything off the tank. Even if they’re not the main tank. Sometimes even if they’re just DPS. Probably has “taunt” macro’d to every other button.
- Hypercompetitive DPS – often meter spamming. Sometimes abrasive to other DPS. Possibly Tarquin.
- DPS Farmers (whatever that means)
- Bad Directions – no matter how you do it, it’s wrong. His way is better. Shouts directions repeatedly in /yell or /RA, but isn’t the raid leader. Annoying if ignored, wipe-creating if only half the raid is paying attention.
- Not Paying Attention – Wait, we got loot? Which boss are we at now? Where are you guys going?
- I Have An Interrupt Macro, would you like to see it? – I use it every time I interrupt this trash mob! And the boss!
- Get Loot + Go - rolls on something, wins, drops group. Sometimes doesn’t even win loot.
- Worst Name Contest - so far the list includes Tittenkits, ElusiveTacos, ShavedTaters and SpasticColon
I’m SURE you guys can come up with some more…
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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?