Category Archives: gaming

Virtual gaming worlds of the future

FFXIV emotes - Meeka is shockedI just went back to Final Fantasy XIV, A Realm Reborn, so it’s not surprising that I dreamt about gaming last night. However what did surprise me was the logic of the dream. I leapt out of bed and immediately wrote it all down, before even putting the kettle on. If you know me you know I can NOT survive without my caffeine hit.

Anyway, before I tell you what my dream was about, let me give you some background on MMOGs of the present. MMOGs – Massively Multiplayer Online Games – come in all shapes and sizes but they all have two things in common:

– the worlds are persistent, – i.e. they continue to exist even if you, the player, are not there to see it, and

– thousands of real people play in them.

These two elements give MMOG worlds a semblance of reality that is very addictive. Unfortunately, the semblance is paper thin. In the real world we have to do things to survive. In the current gaming worlds, survival is a given, and the purpose of ‘doing things’ is to either :

– gain levels

– or gain better gear

Once gamers have achieved the maximum levels and gear the game will allow, they struggle to find exciting things to do.

As someone who loves crafting, I have an added layer of purpose in FFXIV because of the player housing. Crafting things for our group house, and making it look warm and welcoming give me something to do most days. Unfortunately, most of the other endgame activities bore me to tears. Eventually I, and other players like me always leave to find a new gaming world to discover.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. Just as we find a purpose for ourselves in the real world, we could also create a purpose for ourselves in the gaming world …if we were the ones in control instead of the devs [developers].

It can be done because different types of MMOGs are already doing elements of what’s needed. Unfortunately none of them are putting it all together into one coherent whole. In my dream, however, I did.

Part of the plot of Innerscape [the human-centric sci-fi novel I’m working on] takes place in a gaming world of the future. That world will behave something like this :

Meeka’s dream gaming world

The gaming worlds of Innerscape won’t charge a subscription fee. They won’t even charge to download the gaming software [or whatever performs that function by 2100]. But they will charge for in-game necessities such as housing.

Essentially, everyone will pay ‘rent’, and the rent will be on a sliding scale from a few credits a month to hundreds, perhaps even thousands.

Rental of two credits a month will pay for bed and breakfast at a common Inn, or whatever the cheapest form of accommodation is in that world.

For that basic rental, the player will get enough ‘sleep’ and ‘food’ to get them through one gaming day. In fighting worlds, this will mean that players will have a 50/50 chance of winning against non-player foes at their level. Now a 50/50 chance of winning is no better than random chance, so the aim for most players will be to increase that chance of winning as quickly as possible.

How a player increases his or her chances of winning depends on the type of game they are playing, but generally, the process will mimic real life in that there will be two major streams to follow – the hero stream or the villain stream. Or something in between.

Heroes are good guys who earn the respect of the non-player characters [npc] in every city, town and village. This respect translates into increased strength, endurance, agility etc when the hero is fighting a villain in the city, town or village. Not surprisingly, the opposite happens with villains. They lose the respect of the npcs in the city, town or village, which in turn, weakens them in all the important attributes.

As an example, let’s use some numbers to explain the effect of respect. A hero player may have combined attributes worth 100 points. However when this hero enters a city, town or village, the respect factor boosts their combined attributes by a maximum of 50% – e.g. the hero’s attributes go from 100 to 150.

Now lets look at what happens to a villain when he/she enters a town. Out in the wildlands, the villain’s attributes are worth 100. Inside the city, town or village, however, their attributes plummet by 50%, i.e. they drop to 50.

A hero with attributes of 150 can easily beat a villain with attributes of 50, so it makes sense for heroes to gain respect, and for villains to stay away from areas where they are weakened.

Of course gaming is never that straight forward. If a very powerful villain [say one with attributes worth 400], enters a town, his/her attributes will only drop to 200 – i.e. 50% of 400 = 200. 400 – 200 = 200. 200 will beat the local hero who is only at 150.

But what if there are two local heroes in the town when the villain attacks, and they both fight back. The chances are their combined stats will be more than high enough to beat off even a very powerful villain.

Clearly then, towns favour heroes. But what if a group of villains attack? Again, the result will depend on numbers; 3 villains at 50 would have the same ‘power’ as one hero at 150. However if you add one more villain, the balance suddenly changes in their favour – i.e. 4 x 50 = 200 vs the 150 of the hero.

As with all things mathematical, two heroes would again easily beat four villains [of the same level] so the balance of power is constantly in flux and makes for interesting, player initiated events.

One such event will be the capture of a city, town or village. If a large enough group of villains capture a stronghold, and can hold it against the heroes for one week, the npcs in that stronghold will turn neutral. If the villains make an effort not to antagonize the npcs, their ability to hold on to their captured territory becomes easier. If they are ‘cruel’ to the captured npcs, they risk turning the npcs towards the heroes again. And that could lead to the loss of the stronghold when the heroes launch a counter offensive.

But why would the heroes do that? Because their homes and businesses are in the captured stronghold, and while the villains are in control, the heroes can’t access any of their gear. They will literally have nothing but what they stand up in, and carry in their personal inventory. Thus the motivation to recapture a stronghold will be core to the game.

To recapture a stronghold, the heroes will have to begin by winning over the npcs on the outer perimeter of the stronghold. This is effectively like being Robin Hood.

Once enough npcs have been won over, the dispossessed heroes have to form an alliance and then, when their combined respect is high enough, they must launch an attack against the villains holding the stronghold.

Given the tendency of npcs to side with heroes not villains, villains have to expend a lot of energy to take a stronghold, and even more to hold it. This gives the advantage to the heroes, but only in the places where some form of order reigns. Out in the wild lands, both villains and heroes are dependent on their own prowess. Or on their ability to create and hold groups.

Groups of Heroes can tame sections of the wildlands, but here they will suffer the same difficulties as villains do in cities – the terrain is against them, and they must fight twice as hard to achieve anything at all.

Once a slice of the wildlands is captured and held for one week, however, crafter and builder classes can move in to consolidate the taming of the wild. Players can come in and create farms, and lay the foundations for a new village. These players contribute to the well-being of the battling classes that protect them, making them more effective. Sound familiar?

Once the heroes have carved out a certain level of ‘safety’ for the village, npcs will migrate to the village and help make it stronger still. If the heroes can keep the village going for one month, they will gain the respect of their npcs and after that, fighting off the villains will become much easier.

The internal structure of these gaming worlds will go much deeper than simple wars to gain territory. When heroes are not out fighting off villains and imposing order on the wildlands, they can go in search of treasure. Often the treasure will be nothing more than money, [after all, even heroes have to eat]. However, sometimes the heroes will find recipes that crafters can learn.

As everything in the gaming worlds has to be created by the players, such recipes are worth more than gold as they allow new techniques and new gear to enter the economy. This gives heroes an advantage over villains who generally do not craft, and must enter strongholds to buy the gear they need. Or steal it if they believe they are strong enough.

These recipes also give crafters a degree of power and influence they would not otherwise have, making it more logical for heroes of all stripes to work together so everyone can prosper. Those heroes who prove to be overly greedy will slowly lose their respect levels and that will make them more vulnerable when the next villain attack occurs.

Basically, then, the gaming worlds will have in-built structures to act as checks and balances, but how the worlds actually develop will depend largely on the players themselves. They will be the ones who create the society in which they live.

Of course in any world, there has to be some wiggle room for those players who hate to conform in any manner, shape or form. So each world will have the potential for players who fit the nomad category. These players will pay no ‘rent’ and will function as hunter gatherers. They will live  rough, eating only what they can capture/harvest in their weakened state.

Progress for these nomads will depend on how effective they are at surviving in a hostile environment. If they can find enough to eat they can build a humpy [a small shelter made of branches and leaves]. In time they can trade furs or other natural ‘ingredients’ they have gathered to the villagers for money.

That money can then be used to buy a tent and perhaps some cooking implements. In time, such successful nomads might join together to form tribes of hunter gatherers. Of course, whilst living in a tribe would have distinct survival benefits, it would also create its own unique problems, and players would have to create rules that balanced co-operation with freedom.

If you’re still reading this long brain fart, you will have noticed that in my ideal gaming world, every action has consequences. You may also have noticed that the world combines virtually every type of MMOG currently in existence – PVP, PVE, strategy, conquest, social reality, you name it, it’s there because that’s exactly what we have in the real world.

I can’t see such an all encompassing world arriving any time soon, but as a writer I can make the future into anything I want, and this is what I would like to see in the MMOGs I play. If you’d like to see something different, don’t be afraid to say so in comments. I only bite trolls. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


Sunset in Final Fantasy XIV

I’ve been far too tense lately, and that has been reflected in my blog posts, so I thought I’d show you one of the reasons I love playing Final Fantasy XIV so much.

ffxiv coco and sunset

As you can see, FFXIV is graphically beautiful, but what makes it so immersive [I think I just made that word up] is the blend of time, weather and graphics.

Time passes in FFXIV. During the course of a few hours we go from day to night, and in the process we have sunrises and sunsets. And they’re not all the same. This particular one was so beautiful, it literally made me catch my breath, as if I were looking at the real thing.

The weather, too, affects me like the real thing. Dappled sunshine seen through leaves gently swaying in the breeze makes me happy. Mist is eerie, rain is a bit depressing, thunderstorms with lightning kind of make me duck my head.

And then there are the sound effects. My footsteps crackle on dry grass, squish when running through puddles, tap on stone, have a slightly hollow sound on wooden boards.

Add all this sensory sleight of hand together and you have a world that looks and feels real. Innerscape may not be that far off after all. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


My new addiction – the Jacquie Lawson Circus!

I make no apologies – I’m well and truly in holiday mode, and playing games is very much a part of the equation for me. I play Final Fantasy xiv, of course, and Spider Solitaire, but my latest craze is the Balloon Pop game that’s part of the Jacquie Lawson Circus.

Rather than trying to describe the Circus, feast your eyes on these screenshots:

balloon game circus

 

Like the Advent Calendar, you unlock the various parts of the Circus by ‘buying’ tickets. Unlike the calendar, however, you can unlock all the tickets in one hit if you wish. I’ve unlocked almost all of the tickets so there are little animations all over the place, including that clock in the mid-ground. It always displays my real world time. It’s a very nice touch which makes the scene look and feel strangely real. From memory, the Balloon Pop game is the third ticket in the sequence.

The aim of the Balloon Pop game is to pop as many balloons as possible, but the minimum is three. This is what it looks like at the start:

balloon game start

There are ten levels, and the game speeds up as you progress. You also get wildcard balloons – in the shape of diamonds and crowns – that make big bangs, and give your score a big boost.

I’m pleased to say that, unlike the game in the Advent Calendar, this one I can win! mwahahahaha… -cough-

balloon game winner

For my next post I’ll try for something a little more grownup, maybe. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


How I’m keeping my sanity

The Certificate IV course in Training and Assessment I’m studying is nearing the pointy end, and I’m behind in my assignments. I literally have been working my butt off for weeks now, but the official-speak leaves my brain feeling as if it’s been through a pasta maker and turned into spaghetti. 😦

The balance I used to have in my life is gone, and I miss it. But at least I do have an escape to keep me sane – gaming. I can only play for an odd hour here and there, but it’s enough. Just.

I’ve done the odd post about Final Fantasy XIV, A Realm Reborn – the latest MMO I’m playing – but none of that has given even a hint as to the sheer scope and brilliance of the game. So now here is the opening cinematic. It tells of the final battle that led to the realm needing to be ‘reborn’.

Even if you don’t give a fig for games, I hope you’ll enjoy this short piece of cinema. And the music is lovely too. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


If I could change the world [of MMOs]…

I’ve been too busy to spend much time gaming lately, but to be honest, I haven’t really wanted to play all that much either. Many nights I spend my precious gaming time searching the net for new MMOs instead.

Why? Because I’m bored. Timezones and restricted gaming time make it impossible to do typical MMO endgame stuff – such as raids – and I’ve never enjoyed pvp, so now I’m leveling up another character on GW2 [Guild Wars 2] and feeling nostalgic about FFXI [Final Fantasy 11 online].

There were very good, and compelling reasons for leaving FFXI, but player housing was not one of them. In fact I probably kept on playing the game for far longer simply because player housing gave me an alternate reason to keep playing.

You see in FFXI, player housing was a bit like having a real life house of your own. You could furnish it with all sorts of things from antique tea sets to various styles of furniture. Think of it as having a very sophisticated and elaborate doll’s house in which you could move around.

And no, FFXI player housing didn’t look anything like this… but wouldn’t it be fun if it did?

Beyond the fun of redecorating though, player housing had other functions as well. Most of the items in our houses aided crafting in some way, and I always loved crafting so I could spend hours just messing around ‘at home’.

I have always loved ‘gardening’ as well, and in FFXI you could grow crystals in garden pots. I don’t want to go into what crystals were used for – just accept that they were valuable in-game commodities. Caring for my ‘garden’ took yet more time, time I was happy to spend.  And of course, finding the materials to feed my crafting and gardening took many more hours.

-sigh- I really miss that aspect of gaming. Not only did it give me something to do beyond upgrading my weapons and armour, it also made the game feel more life-like. After all, isn’t that pretty much what we all do in real life? We work to make life comfortable, and that includes buying clothes and shoes, cars or motorbikes, the latest gadgets, furniture, apartments or houses, vacations, entertainment etc.

In modern MMOs however, we can only really spend our in-game money on three related things – more powerful weapons, better armour, and mounts [personal transportation]. Sadly, GW2 doesn’t even have mounts so the incentive to keep playing is reduced by 1/3.

Now I know an awful lot of players will disagree with me on the question of incentives – most are young and are only really interested in the battling aspect of MMOs. But as those players get older, they too will begin to face the same life constraints that I do, and when that happens they will either stop playing altogether, or they will demand ‘more’ from their games.

In my not so humble opinion, MMO developers who want longevity for their products would do well to bring player housing back into the equation – as a standard part of the game dynamic. The MMOs that retain player housing also seem to retain their playerbase. Just saying.

Another thing I’d do, if I were a developer, is rethink the whole question of armour. At the moment, most Western MMOs combine the look of armour with its function. So for example, the Warrior class wears plate armour while Mages wear cloth, and you cannot mix and match to customize your appearance. This has the net result of making characters look alike, apart from a few small differences.

By contrast, A Perfect World International and Aion both split form from function. This allows for a great deal more individuality in appearance.

I would go one step further. I would make all armour neutral, and stats [functions such as defence] would become slot items.  This is not so very different to what we have now. It would merely formalize  upgrades into standard components. The difference would be that appearance would be completely separate to function.

In my ideal MMO, a Warrior could wear flowing robes, and a Mage could wear plate. 🙂

Well, the clock is ticking and this little detour into daydreams must end.  À bientôt mes amis!

Meeks


Tad Williams on Otherland online

otherland series covers_Tad Williams has been one of my all time favourite authors since I fell in love with his Otherland series. Since then my Daughter has become a fan, as has her boyfriend, so I guess you could say it’s a family affair. 🙂

Something else we share in our family is a love of gaming and MMO’s [massively multiplayer online games]. Little wonder then that we have all been waiting for Otherland the MMO.

Otherland online is an mmo that has been in development for something like six years, and is based on Tad William’s Otherland series. But the connection doesn’t end there. Tad Williams has been actively involved in the development of the game, and it has his seal of approval,  so ….

You guessed it, I asked Tad Williams about Otherland online during Supanova [here in Melbourne], and his eyes lit up.

Although Tad is more interested in the social side of Otherland online than in the traditional mmo aspects, we found common ground in the Lambda Mall. For those who have not read Otherland, Lambda Mall is the equivalent of a future Second Life on steroids. It is a place where people go to have fun, shop, and interact with each other. All this interaction happens via avatars that are as basic, or as spectacular as people can afford.

In the Lambda Mall of the Otherland mmo, gamers will be able to hang out with their friends, shop, and generally have fun because for the first time in an mmo, they will actually have things to do in this social hub.

In recent years, I’ve been a fairly solitary gamer because I simply don’t have the time to interact with other gamers during group events like dungeons, or raids. And I do miss that interaction, so I have been following the development cycle of Otherland online with a fair degree of impatience.

That impatience turned to concern when I read of problems with the company developing the game. Naturally I voiced that concern to Tad Williams and he was quick to reassure me that this was just a temporary glitch. Phew!

I’m paraphrasing Tad here but the good news is that Otherland online will be completed in either the US or Canada. Discussions and negotiations regarding this move should be finished within a month and then the beta testing will go on.

At this point, no-one can provide a firm launch date, but both Tad and I have our fingers crossed for the end of 2013.

Needless to say, I can hardly wait. Oh, and did I mention that Tad Williams is incredibly approachable and nice? Well he is. 🙂


GW2 – doing it solo

GW2 character Vokhtah I try not to do too many posts on the gaming side of my life, but I feel my time in GW2 [Guild Wars 2] is drawing to an end, so I’m going to talk about how the game has measured up for a solo player.

The gorgeous looking young man in the photo is my main character on GW2. I called him Vokhtah in some kind of psychological sleight of hand. Perhaps I thought the name would remind me that I had ‘work’ to do. Or perhaps I just wanted to assuage my guilt.

Whatever the motivation, I have managed to restrict my gaming addiction to a couple of hours a night. Unfortunately, the combination of superhuman self-discipline, and the tyranny of timezones, has meant that I’ve had to do most of my gaming solo.

As Vokhtah [the character] is a Ranger, I had no trouble leveling him to 80. The low level, open events were a great help, and gave me the illusion of being part of a team. I say illusion, because these open events are mostly zergs.

For non-players, a zerg is a free-for-all that involves no strategy and precious little teamwork. Basically an event begins, players show up, and everyone just spams their most destructive spells or weapon skills as if they were playing solo.

Nonetheless, there is scope for teamwork, even  in such open events, and there were times when I did nothing but heal players who could do more damage than me. Those were probably the events I enjoyed the most as they involved some thought. At higher levels though, such zergs aren’t terribly effective, and the ability to join in without even having to join a group means communication between players is minimal.

Once players reach the higher levels, and have to move on to Orr everything changes, and not for the better.

The three zones of Orr – The Straits of Devastation, Malchor’s Leap and Cursed Shore – are an order of magnitude harder than anything that has come before. The density of mobs [enemies] is much higher and they all seem to have debilitating crowd control skills that can leave you helpless. Apart from the normal mobs, there are also far more veterans, champions and areas in which the player is assaulted by briars, lightning, supernatural elements etc which you cannot fight.

These deadly map elements can be countered, up to a point, by using the appropriate signets, but signets have cooldowns [a period during which they are unusable because they are ‘refilling’] while the map elements do not. Add normal mobs to the mix and you may find yourself spending a lot of money on equipment repairs, and a lot of time running back from the nearest available waypoint.

The lack of available waypoints is another sore point. In Orr, almost all of the waypoints are contested, and hence unavailable. Group events are meant to release these waypoints, but these group events are either not happening during the times I can play, or they are not happening at all. So dying can be a terrible time sink.

If you are just farming, the extra dangerous areas can usually be avoided. However if you have an obstinate desire to complete the map, you will become very frustrated very quickly because skill challenges are often located right in the middle of these hotspots.

I am one of those obstinate people who need to complete the map, and it was not until very recently that I learned something not mentioned on any forum I have been on – namely that the game developers have provided ‘back-doors‘ into many, if not all of these hotspots.

Some of these back-doors involve following a well hidden path to the skill challenge. Others involve waiting until the Champion guarding the skill challenge moves far enough away. A nifty one I discovered last night involved reviving a friendly npc and having it distract the Champion while you run around the back and grab the skill challenge.

I might have thought I was just being particularly clever had the skill challenge not worked almost instantly. [Communing with a skill challenge usually takes a couple of seconds]. Clearly my strategy was exactly what the developers had intended with this particular back-door.

I’ve managed to reach some of the more impossible map elements by attaching myself to the odd group, but thanks to my time-zone, such groups are incredibly rare. Most of the time I’m on my own and shouting for groups achieves nothing because no-one else is on.

Why not join a guild, you ask? Hah. I’m in two guilds and there’s never anyone playing during the short window in which I can play. Or they’re afk. Or they’re not interested in playing in Orr.

To be honest I don’t enjoy playing in Orr either. I have spent weeks completing other parts of the world map, but now Orr is pretty much all that’s left. Plus I really do want to complete my personal story arc, so here I am. In Orr. Playing solo and dying a lot. Upgrading my equipment to Rares and Exotics has helped, but wasn’t gear supposed to be less important than skill? In Orr, being a reasonably skilled solo player is less important than have the best gear possible.

To be fair, the developers always intended Orr to be the more traditional, massively multiplayer part of the game. That means groups going out with a plan, clearly defined roles and the intention of playing together. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be much of that happening. And of course, even if there were, I’d still be playing solo because I only allow myself 2 hours of play a night.

Before I wrap this up I’d like to say a word about crafting in GW2. I love crafting, and I have to say I’ve enjoyed making things in GW2, but I can’t say crafting is particularly useful and I have had to buy 99.9% of my gear.

As in most games, you have to level your character so it can survive long enough to gather the higher crafting materials. Even if you do nothing but gather and craft, it’s next to impossible to make worthwhile gear for yourself. One way around this is to gather materials for one of your other characters so they can stay safe in a low level zone and just craft. Unfortunately this is not much fun because it requires grinding the same zone over and over again until your crafter can move up to a higher level. Now that my ranger has reached 80 I am spending a lot of time just gathering, but it is a grind.

Before GW2 was launched, the developers touted it as the mmo without grind. They also touted it as the casual-friendly mmo. I’d have to say they’ve achieved about 80% of the no-grind promise, and about 70% of the casual-friendly one. They have also created a top quality product that is subscription free.

No matter how you look at it, those results are pretty impressive. But. We were lead to expect more, and I am a bit… disappointed.

I have never had the time, or the inclination to play dungeons, so as a solo player I would have been satisfied with completing the world map, and my personal story arc, with the same level of enjoyment I had in the lower levels. Orr killed that. Now I have to think long and hard whether there is enough left in the game to tempt me into leveling up another character.

“We shall see,” said the blind man.

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 


Otherland, the mmo – beta trailer

It never rains, but it pours… right? Yesterday I gave you Gackt in all his glory, and I’m sure some of you must have wondered what had gotten into me. Go on, admit it. Well, it’s still not safe to go back into the water because today, I’m really letting Meeka loose with this trailer from the Otherland mmo. You can find my post here if you’re so inclined.

The trailer is from the beta, [short for beta testing before launch], so technically the game is still in the fine tuning stage, but the graphics look incredible, the character avatars look kick-ass, and I’m itching to play!

Be warned – the music is loud. 🙂


Two Steps from Hell and Final Fantasy XIII

I was feeling a bit out of sorts today so I went looking for a quick pick-me-up. Music always lifts my mood so I went looking for something from Two Steps from Hell and found two of my favourite things all rolled up into one amazing package!

I’ve been a huge fan of the Final Fantasy video game series for a very long time and The Daughter and I have played Final Fantasy XIII, although we have not finished it because we were both distracted by various mmo’s. Having seen this video clip, with CG sequences we have not yet reached I now know we MUST get back to it and finish it off.

For the non-gamers out there CG stands for computer generated and every single moment of footage you see in the video clip is an animation. Looks real though doesn’t it?

That’s one of the many reasons I love Final Fantasy. Square-Enix, the developer, is always pushing the envelope in terms of graphics and their video movie, Advent Children, is the very best of its kind I’ve seen todate. Gameplay has become less exciting though, which is a shame. I hope the pendulum swings back towards the middle soon with Square-Enix rediscovering innovative gameplay as well as innovative and beautiful graphics.

Anyway, I’m all cheered up now so I wish you all a long and enjoyable weekend!


SWTOR – my companion just made a pass at me!

As many of you may know I play Star Wars: The Old Republic [hereinafter called SWTOR] and I am enjoying it. Well, last night I was in my ship, chatting with my male companion Corso and doing a bit of ‘flirting’…

[Hmmm…-thinks- I may have to backtrack here a little otherwise they are going to think I’m really strange]

Ok, in SWTOR your character inherits a companion npc* quite early on in the game. This companion fights with you and is a little like a Hunter’s ‘pet’ in WoW* except that it gains affection towards you instead of ‘loyalty’.  Most of this affection is linked to the choices you make while you are questing – do or say ‘good’ things and it grows, do ‘bad’ things and it diminishes. The more affection your companion feels for you the more effective it is as a companion. I’m a female Gunslinger [don’t ask] and my companion is a human male who acts as my tank* so logically the more it ‘likes’ me the better it will be as a tank.

Now I had read that  it was possible to have a ‘romance’ with your companion so I was a tad curious to see how this would play out. My first clue happened a few levels* back when I’d ‘flirted’ with another npc during a quest. I suddenly noticed that Corso’s affection went backwards [as evidenced by the red light and minus number that flashed up on the screen]. Was my companion… jealous? How interesting…

Clue no.2 happened last night. As I said, Corso and I were in the ship and the question icon was floating above Corso’s head so I clicked it only to discover that my sweet, country-boy companion was drunk! Not rolling on the floor and being obnoxious drunk, just drunk enough to make a pass at me! Being a responsible woman of mature years I did not lead the poor lad on for long but, I cannot tell a lie, some primal part of my sub-brain was a little chuffed. Yes, I know, how can a grown woman flirt with a digital picture and enjoy it?

Sadly, my strangeness does not stop there. A few minutes after all this drunken flirting, and after being told that ‘You are the strongest woman I’ve ever met Captain’ [how can you not love a ‘man’ who says things like this?], Corso and I were down on the planet trying to finish off a quest when the truly odd thing happened. This particular quest was one of the ones with ‘stages’. You complete one part and at the end of it you get a message flashing up on screen basically saying that you have unlocked the next stage. I generally just grit my teeth and keep going because the rewards for completing all stages are better, however last night I was tired so when I realised that another stage was about to be unlocked I took the ‘bad’ choice on offer. In this case I had been sent to find a serum that was needed to save the good guys from a plague I can’t spell. To get the serum I had had to fight my way through umpteen corridors and chambers full of evil pirates and I was tired. I wanted to finish and go to bed.

So what was this bad choice that I made? Well, I could force the pirate medic to give me the serum or I could let it keep the serum for all the ‘sick pirates who would die without it’ while I went off somewhere else to find another batch of serum to take back to the ‘good guys’. Like I said, I was tired. I wanted to go to bed and these were just digital people. Right? So I chose to let all those poor bad guys die. AND THE RED LIGHT AND MINUS NUMBERS flashed up on screen from Corso!!!!!!

I had blotted my moral copy book and my companion was displeased with me 😦

Did I laugh it off as just a few numbers that I could make up the next day? Did I log off and go to bed with a clear conscience? Like hell I did 😦 My heart sank and I think I may have blushed. I know I wished that I’d given in and done the rest of the stupid quest. And I know I felt ashamed of myself – both for betraying my principles AND for being such an idiot about a damn game.

Unfortunately, like so many of our real life decisions, once made they cannot be withdrawn so now I know two things –

1. I can’t roleplay for nuts and,

2. Even imaginary moral decisions are important to me.

Is this a hangover from my Catholic upbringing? Or is it more about who I am and how I see myself? Whatever my personal answer may be I know I won’t be taking the easy option again. I also know that I won’t be playing my Sith character anymore unless the storyline allows for some kind of ‘conversion to the light’ when a Sith accumulates too many ‘light’ points. It might be interesting to see how a ‘good’ Sith storyline plays out but my nerves are still a bit too jangled to find out. If anyone has played a good Sith and can give me some pointers I’ll be eternally grateful.

cheers

Meeks

npc* – non-player character, in other words a character controlled by the game AI.

WoW* – World of Warcraft online

tank* – a class that defends other players by drawing enemy fire onto themselves

levels* – a form of in-game progression based on the accumulation of XP [experience points]


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