January 17, 2012 – 11:04 am
So Cynwise has a really excellent post up about what makes WoW different from other games and other forms of social media – it’s worth a read, so I’m going to just link to it and let you go read it before I start thinking about it over here.
Go now, read, come back when you’re done.
On Snow Crash, Virtual Avatars, and Warcraft’s Social Network Appeal
What really stuck with me, and tickled my brain cells, was the bit about guilds – beyond a general resonance that yes, what makes WoW (and other MMO’s) stick is the combination of social network and doing things. (See my earlier post on needing immersion and community – my versions of doing things and a social network.)
See, I don’t wonder if there’s a dichotomy between what WoW assumes guilds are about and how RP guilds work. Totally Raids was a way to raid beyond guild affiliation, because guild affiliation for roleplayers is about RP community, not about who’s a raid main and who’s an alt. So my raiding experience prior to 4.0 and the new guild achievement/ranking system was totally unrelated to my guild – in fact, I switched guilds a few times before settling in with the Wildfire Riders, all while still raiding with TRI.
Cyn also talks about the change from small server communities to a more global community – which is, I think, mostly a progression in the right direction. As much as we look with some nostalgia on the 3+hour wait times for Alterac Valley, back before cross-realm battlegroup PVP, it’s nice to be able to PVP whenever you want. You did lose the sense of server continuity though. Back in those days I knew who to watch out for in Feathermoon’s Horde PVP scene, and could generally tell pretty quickly who I was up against. Now you’re not likely to ever see the same players twice.
The same thing happens in LFG – which in its earliest days (back when I was leveling Annalira as a holy priest in 1.8 or so) was one of my primary ways of making friends on the server. Even of making roleplaying friends.
Now, in LFD, if I run into some roleplayers it’s a random treat, but I don’t use RealID (for a number of privacy reasons) so I have no way of connecting with any of those people again. And roleplay is really about being able to connect to people outside of just running dungeons or battlegrounds or raids.
RP guilds generally have different goals – but community is the biggest single goal that I’ve experienced. That community often (but not always) extends out of character, but in the end it’s about having a group of characters that relate to each other and tell stories together – all things that the “new and improved” guild system doesn’t measure. Which, in a way, means that RP can move out of guilds and into channels, but there is still something nice about being part of a community that has a guild tag, guild chat, a guild forum, etc.
Granted, my experience with TRI was the reverse of that, so it’s definitely possible to have cross-guild RP communities with chat channels and forums while still being part of a tagged raiding guild, if that’s what floats your boat.
But I don’t always think that the move to bigger and greater communities is one that is always good for RP
For one thing, a lot of RP is slow – it’s based around building trust and getting to know people.
The constant stream of players through LFD/LFR/BGs means you’re never seeing the same person twice – so you either have to jump to the idea that you can trust everyone, and give out relatively personal information (which comes at a cost, especially if you’ll only ever see that person in other dungeons and not out in the general world), or you enjoy a little pick up RP and move on. I almost exclusively choose the second option, simply because I don’t openly trust everyone I run into, roleplayer or not. I’ve been burned too hard for that in the past.
If I were to engage in larger community RP, it would require having some way to meet people and get used to them in “small” RP situations (like pub night) before diving into creating stories together. Most of the people I’d be interested in fostering that kind of relationship with are people I’ve met outside of WoW, usually on Twitter or through this blog. Meeting other like-minded RPers is harder than ever, now that there’s not really a lot of difference between RP-PVE and regular PVE when it comes to choosing servers, and server populations are enormous on most RP servers. Plus, your battlegroup makes a bigger difference in the people you run dungeons/battlegrounds with than your server, unless you are already cultivating a relationship …
A relationship with a guild.
RP guilds offer the opportunity to know that, at the very least, the people you’ll be socializing with are RP tolerant, if not outright roleplayers themselves.
So maybe Cynwise is right, and guilds are going to go the way of the dodo. But for those of us for whom guilds serve a rather different function than groups, raids, and battlegrounds, I don’t wonder if there will always be throwbacks to the current system. I realize that RP guilds are vastly in the minority for WoW guilds – most guild leadership guides don’t know heads or tails about what it takes to be a member or leader of an RP guild because they’re even more scarce now than they used to be. But we do exist, and it will be interesting to see where and how we fit into new systems in the future.
Whether or not future environments will be more or less RP friendly remains to be seen, however.
My gut feeling is that they will continue to be less RP friendly (as they’ve moved in that direction over time), but that is, as always, just my opinion. And probably the subject of another post.
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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.”
“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.
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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.
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.”
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It really …
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