Written by | Posted October 24, 2014 – 12:01 pm Elevation

Squire Benjamin William Sullivan stood in the middle of Light’s Hope Chapel in his underpants.

Actually, it was white linen pants and a shift, but the effect was approximately the same. The little chapel was warm, on the edge of …

Hope for the Best (part 2)
comment 1 Written by on January 17, 2012 – 7:28 am

Master Sideth was not, in fact, entirely comfortable in the Drunkard’s Vote cantina. He was there looking for someone named only “Jeb”, a human trader of some repute. Just WHAT repute, he wasn’t entirely sure, but contacts on Coruscant had said he did a lot of traveling around various parts of the Galaxy, was generally known for not losing members of his crew to the Empire, and could be counted on to be, when needed, discrete.

The uncomfortable looking Jedi stood out amidst the general riffraff of Coruscant’s trading and spaceport centers in such a way that several people had already asked if he was lost. The fourth such person to approach him hadn’t had such worries.

“I’m Jeb. I’m not entirely sure what you folks want from me, but I was told that the idea wasn’t one I should pass up, at least not without hearing what you had to say.”

“Er… yes. Captain Jeb. I’m Master Sideth, of the Jedi Council on Tython. We have a rather unusual situation on our hands, and as such were hoping that some sort of accord might be reached regarding two very skilled Jedi that have previously been in my employ.”

“Previously, eh?”

“Well yes. They’ve been removed from their positions within the Temple for… er… misconduct.”

“Oh, so you want me to babysit them while they’re in time out, huh?”

“Er… not exactly. But… well. Yes, and no. They need positions away from teaching, and away from impressionable Padawans, but they’re highly skilled and useful, as well as being largely pragmatic individuals.”

“So what do I get out of this, besides two hand-waving Jedi to keep out of trouble?”

“You get the best star-chart reader we have, and one of the best battle healers we’ve ever seen. Both were in teaching positions in the Temple, but … that is no longer an option for them. They’d be valuable members of a crew, and I can guarantee their willingness to obey orders. Both are capable in flight crew duties as well.”

Jeb seemed to think about that for a moment. He didn’t currently have a full time healer. Star charts weren’t so much a problem, but an extra navigator was never a bad thing to have around.

The Jedi looked even more uncomfortable. “There is also this.” He lay a bag of credits on the table. “It’s not much, but it’s their pay for the rest of the month. They’ve agreed to let me use it to help secure an appropriate assignment.”

Jeb weighed the bag in his hand. It wasn’t much, but it was something. And he really could stand to have a trained medic on staff. “How long do you want me to play ‘keeper’ for you?”

“That’s unknown at this time, Captain.”

“Then this ain’t enough pay. Make it six month’s salary and you got yourself a deal,” replied Jeb with a dark look on his face.

Master Sideth frowned. “And how am I to know you’ll pay this to these two Jedi properly?”

Jeb grinned. “How are you to know I won’t space them as soon as we leave the atmosphere? Look, sunshine. Fact is, I ain’t never stiffed a member of my crew. Ever. You don’t believe me, well, there ain’t nothing I can do about that. But if you want me to do your job for you, you’re gonna pay me in advance. Right here, right now. Otherwise, you can take your misbehaving children and your coin and your lightsaber, and shove ‘em both where the sun don’t shine.”

Sideth focused and waved his hand before Jeb. “One month’s pay will be fine.”

Jeb smiled. “No it won’t. And your parlor tricks won’t work on me. Six months pay. Final chance, sunshine.”

Sideth grunted, reached into his robes, and added to the pouch before handing it over.

Jeb felt the wait of the pouch, grinned, and shook the Jedi master’s hand.

*****

Two days later, Aely found herself and her (admittedly few) worldly possessions waiting on a transport ship bound for Coruscant. Someone named Jeb would apparently be meeting them there for assignment details and her duties within something named the Coruscant Trade Company.

It didn’t sound promising, for what she knew of most unaffiliated Traders, but … well, it was better than being thrown out entirely. Master Sideth hadn’t had much to say about the assignment, other than that it would likely take them all over the galaxy, and would probably be at least somewhat dangerous. There wasn’t a lot known about the Empire’s movements in the farther worlds, but it was common knowledge that traders were usually the ones doing questionable assignments.

Arrens sat dozing in the last of the Tython afternoon sunshine, unconcerned at the moment. At least, regardless of what happened with this Jeb person, they’d be handling it together.

Can you hear me now?
comment 2 Written by on January 16, 2012 – 8:08 am

Parallel context posted recently about the seeming dearth of people in leveling zones. You should go read the post, because it struck a chord with me.

I’ve been trying to level up Ancelyn, my warlock, and it’s been a very lonely adventure. Feralas had only three players in the zone on Friday evening. Even Outland has been mostly deserted, leveling Annata usually means being in a zone with fewer than 10 other people, many of whom outlevel the zone and are there to farm something, or to help speed-level a friend or alt.

Seeing that, and reading Redbeard’s post, I don’t wonder what’s in store for the leveling game in Mists. Blizzard’s re-do of the original world for Cataclysm provided a new leveling experience, for sure – but it’s a disjointed one. It used to be that you moved forward in the game from “old to new” as you leveled. Now you’ll complete the Plaguelands, where it’s obvious the Lich King is gone, only to later encounter him, alive and well, in Northrend.

The original zones did a good job of not being tied specifically to an end game – they were non-linear, often having quests that traded back and forth, which was occasionally a pain in the ass, but also helped the world feel more connected. Azeroth didn’t feel like it was always gearing up for a big fight against any one bad-guy – the raid instances were their own separate story that you didn’t encounter until you were at or close to level 60. Moving to Outland was a normal progression, because Illidan really only made a lot of influence in Shadowmoon Valley, and you didn’t see Vashj (just lots of Naga) unless you actually raided Serpentshrine Cavern.

That got a lot of criticism at the time, because people had trouble finding a connection to Outland – which I understand partially (it was a huge environment jump), but moving into Wrath, Arthas shows up a LOT. There is no question that Northrend is the home of the Lich King, even if he’s already been killed. And now that the original world has been revamped, a lot of the content is both extremely linear and oriented towards Deathwing. Some areas aren’t (Hinterlands, Arathi Highlands), but Annata’s entire leveling path through the southern half of Eastern Kingdoms was related to the Twilight Cult and Deathwing.

So the leveling chronology is just weird now. Outland isn’t so bad, because it’s easy to level there without having a feeling of “time” in the greater story – but hitting Northrend after doing Eastern Plaguelands is just /weird/. There are also fewer leveling paths now that the quests are streamlined, so it’s harder to choose a totally different experience for each character.

Once Mists hit, it’ll be interesting to see if anything changes or if Blizzard will stick with the Big Hero fighting the Big Bad Guy style. I know I’ve had a lot of trouble caring about replaying the Cataclysm zones – I have two characters stuck at level 81, and I leveled one of my 85′s entirely through Archaeology. (Which is probably another reason the original leveling zones are quiet – you can level entirely through PVP and LFD.)

So we’ll see. Mists will revive the leveling game again, at least for a short while, but I can’t help but wonder if Blizzard would’ve been better not putting so much of the end bosses in the actual questing of the game. Supposedly Mists will be less heavy on the “Big Bad” style of storyline, so perhaps it’ll be better at being immersive in the new zones.

I’ve got more thoughts on linear questing too, especially as it relates to Star Wars, but I think that’s another post.

Hope for the Best (part 1)
comment 1 Written by on January 14, 2012 – 1:44 pm

And so it begins – Aely and Arrens’ adventures in the far reaches of the Galaxy. It’s really good to be writing fic with Arrens again (to be fair, he wrote most of this, I’ll take most of the next part – Shared writing duties are awesome.)

Master Sideth looked at them both from the far end of the table sternly. “Arrens, Aely, I’m afraid you leave the Council little choice in the matter. While several on this Council would have you removed from the Order completely, your records are exemplary, your histories within the Order equally so…with the exception of this blatant violation.” He rubbed his fingers on his temples and looked weary.

The two Jedi stood silently, hands folded before them.

“What would you do were the roles reversed?” he asked.

Arrens spoke first. “Master, I’m afraid I cannot answer such a question without bias. Know that I have never before felt the Force flow through me with such strength and clear-minded purpose than when I have been with Aely. I will continue to maintain the tenets of the Order and hold no one person above another. But my feelings for her will not subside. As such, I will abide by the rulings of the Council, whatever they decide.”

“You walk a dangerous path, Arrens. It is fraught with temptation by the Dark Side – temptation, I fear, you have not felt in all your years within the Order.” Sideth looked to Aely. “And you? What would you have me do?”

Aely sighed. She looked at her hands for a moment, and then directly back at the Council. “I do not know. I know only that every Jedi has struggles to remain on the side of the Light, and it seems this will be mine. I will not abandon the Order over this, nor will I abandon the strength of my own knowledge in the Force. That strength led me here, I can only trust it will lead me forward.”

Sideth looked around the chamber at the other ruling members of the Jedi Council, who all nodded as one. “Then it is decided. We will not remove you from the Order. Not as yet. You are, however, to be removed from your posts within the Temple. You may have no interactions with Padawans without approval from myself and the other members of the Council. So that we may ensure your path down the Dark Side does not continue, you are to report to us regularly regarding your whereabouts and your dealings with others. I would encourage you to assist the Republic in its dealings with the Empire; they have much need for the healing arts in some of the galaxy’s more remote outposts. See where the Senate needs you most on Coruscant and proceed from there. But effective immediately, you are to pack your things and leave the Temple. Leave no word to your students, Arrens. Nor you to your patients, Aely. We will find suitable replacements for you both.”

The members of the Council stood together as Master Sideth delivered his final words.

“May the Force be with you both.”

Immersion and Community
comment 1 Written by on January 11, 2012 – 10:54 pm

So right now I’m playing both WoW and SWTOR. This is interesting, in that if I have the “dunwannas” for one of them, I can easily play the other. Also, I am approximately a peon of no consequence in SWTOR, so I don’t have two raiding schedules to keep up with. I do have two RP schedules to sort out, but so far that’s been OK.

What I’m learning, though, is what it is that makes an MMO “work” for me.

Turns out, I need two things. I need immersion, and I need community.

Immersion, for me, is the ability to “get lost” in a world, for it to kind of swallow you up so you become really involved in the world itself – regardless of quests really, though quests help. Community is both RP and OOC – both are important.

The reason I have learned this is because both games are feeling somewhat stilted on both counts right now.

In Star Wars, the community is squeaky and new, but also already established. I’m playing almost entirely with people I know already, but our characters are unfamiliar (to us and to each other) and there’s a good deal of “figuring things out”. The world itself is also giving me trouble, as it’s hard for me to get “lost” on Coruscant, since it’s essentially a technology warren instead of an outdoor “new world” like location. On top of that, people are generally quiet in channels – something that is also plaguing our WoW community right now. And I’ve had trouble, in general, with immersion in WoW since the world got rearranged for Cataclysm. It was easier once I was leveling a new character, but I still miss being totally sucked into the game the way I was in Wrath (and, to some extent, BC and Vanilla).

Neither of these have easy answers. I can’t change the game, and I can’t force my community to go back to what it was at an earlier date. I’m hoping, though, that with some emphasis on rebuilding RP and our OOC communication, I can at least re-engage with what we do have right now.

Elevation

October 24, 2014 – 12:01 pm

Squire Benjamin William Sullivan stood in the middle of Light’s Hope Chapel in his underpants.

Actually, it was white linen pants and a shift, but the effect was approximately the same. The little chapel was warm, on the edge of …

Introducing the Newest Anna

June 29, 2014 – 4:39 pm

So I’m not really in a position where I should be creating alts. This, of course, does nothing to deter me from making alts when the inspiration strikes. I’ve been really enjoying my Alliance hunter, and she’s my raiding main …

Deconstruction

November 19, 2013 – 4:46 pm

Bad things are happening in Stormwind – and beyond.

The Hand of Lothar, they call themselves.

Yva Darrows was their first target.

Tirith and Aely were their second and third.

They have since… expanded their reach and escalated their methods …

Patrol

November 13, 2013 – 9:59 am

The cathedral bells stop ringing overnight, except for chiming the hours. Three bell strikes, and Angoleth padded softly around another corner of the Cathedral District, staying carefully in the shadows. Trained ears picked up Mogget’s soft breathing – nearly inaudible …

Riders in Lordaeron – Memory

November 7, 2013 – 1:33 pm

(Written by Jolly, Tarquin, and Annalea)

The highlands of Lordaeron were not for the faint of heart; be it the putrescence of the Scourge’s long-lingering remnant, or the rock-strewn hills and valleys that made farmers out of only the most …

Riders of Lordaeron – Logistics

September 13, 2013 – 7:11 pm

(With Tarquin and Annalea)

Once more, four people made their way through the thickets and hills of Lordaeron, this time in the crisp chill of late morning, seeking after the Rider. Aelflaed had snatched what sleep she could while Chryste …

Riders of Lordaeron – Problematic

September 11, 2013 – 9:47 am

(With Tarquin)

She hadn’t wanted to leave Jolly – not so soon after finding him again – but once away, it took about five minutes for Aely to figure out she had a problem.

That problem had just announced that …

Riders of Lordaeron: Arrangements

September 9, 2013 – 10:05 am

It was an uneasy goodbye for him, but it was agreed by both he and Aely that a stroll back to Hearthglen would not be very easy to explain, nor would the explanation needed for the three Argent soldiers once …

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