Posts Tagged ‘ community ’

Do I Make You Horny Baby Yeah!

Back here at Secret Agent Headquarters we’ve been getting disptaches from our agents currently on assignment in Cologne.  And by ‘we’ I mean ‘just little ole me’ and by ‘our agents’ I mean the lovely and talented Tasha Darke.

She’s at Gamescom right now being my photo monkey having the time of her life.  She’s also been gracious enough to take pictures for me.  What does that mean for you?  That means character customization baby yeah!  Each section of each race will have its own post.  So far it’s looking like each race (except maybe for humans) will have three sections.

So, without further ado, I present to you Section 1 of the Charr!  HORNS!

Click for full-size

Oh Where Oh Where Has Our Dear Tiger Gone

So I hear there’s been some audio news over on the ArenaNet blog. Truth be told I haven’t had time to read and watch (blasphemy, I know!)  But it goes without saying that ArenaNet’s audio team are supremely talented artists in their own right and that the soundscape of Guild Wars 2 is rich, varied, interesting, and every bit as beautiful as the visual artwork of the rest of the game.

I’ve been super busy, and not busy playing other games. I have been poking at Minecraft and League of Legends, but mostly because they are quick affairs that don’t encourage me to continue playing for hours on end.

I make no secret of my desire to enter the games industry. I have a Bachelor’s degree in media arts and animation and by chance I landed in advertising. But my heart belongs to 3D work, so this is ultimately not where I want to be. What’s been taking my time so much lately are drastic steps toward my ultimate goal: Work for a great company, preferably in the game development capitol of America, Seattle.

ArenaNet looks like a fantastic company, and their art department is second to none. They are definitely on my list of “places at which I want to work” (I actually have a list, I’m not some kind of starry-eyed idiot. My backup plans have backup plans), but I have no illusions that I can just walk in the door, proclaim myself a fan and an artist, and get the keys to Tyria. If I want to get to my goals I’m going to have to work for it. I’m going to have to work my ass off.

Hence me being busy. Part of my strategy is talking big, performing bigger, getting advice from the super-awesome, and diving head-first into award-winning mod projects. That indie company I was going to do work for collapsed. I took about a day to be mad and moody about it then I turned right back around and shot for the moon — and landed.

It’s still early days, and things with this group might still crumble to nothing (unlikely) or they might decide I’m not actually the droid they were looking for (more likely). But as I’ve said before, everything I do, I do to better myself. If I were to be released from this project this instant I would still come out ahead: more determined, more persistent, single-minded, and most importantly more hungry for that mountaintop.

Success goes to the most talented. Talent isn’t awarded by luck, it’s earned by relentless perseverance in the face of constant failure. I choose to play charr because of their relentless nature and ferocity. They don’t accept defeat. Seize the day? No, I will rip it… from life’s teeth.

Bonus for putting up with all this navel-gazing: An old WoW buddy of mine commissioned a logo for his beer brewing blog, I’m going to be livestreaming the painting of it tomorrow morning. I’ll make sure to put up a shout-out on twitter.

Ephemeral Drift And Impermanence

First off, if you missed my guest post over at Bio Break, please go check it out.  The topic he gave me was loads of fun and I had a blast writing it.  Yes, he was mistaken as to my gender, please don’t hamstorm him about it.  If you were all wondering though, I do have an about page and it does have a picture for proof. 😉

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I’m willing to bet that a majority of you reading this played with Legos as a child.  If you did not I’m sure you had some sort of building block toy, something which you used to make something else.

Children are creative, miraculously so.  A tragedy I have seen is a coworker who brought in her child’s paintings and instead of appreciating the simple chaotic beauty, she always asks “well, what is it?”  It just is, and isn’t that enough?

Beauty.

But beauty doesn’t last, and neither do the things we make.  From a sibling coming and destroying our carefully wrought lego landscape to the digital representation of hours of work disappearing into the ether when our favorite multiplayer game goes dark, we live in a world where the only constant is change.

I heard a story once about a tibetan monk who spent hours and days constructing a sand painting.  Shortly after completion a child came and began dancing across it, destroying the intricate design in moments.  Instead of being angry the monk simply smiled and remarked about the beauty and freedom of a child’s simple dance.

When gaming, particularly with games like World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, and Minecraft we develop a sense of ownership towards our creations and avatars.  When we step back, however, it’s obvious that these constructions are only so many ones and zeros and cannot (I would go so far as to say should not) exist forever.

I’m noticing this strongly right now when playing Minecraft.  It’s a game I prefer to play with friends.  What is the fun of building something fun and interesting without having friends to share it with?  However, this requires a server to either be hosted by a person on their machine or to pay for a professionally hosted server.  Inevitably people get bored, other responsibilities crop up, things change.

I have built many things, spent many hours, on things that are potentially gone forever.  I do not mourn their passing, however, because the joy was in the building and in the sharing with others.  Projects were completed and I am compelled to move on.  Like balloons released to the sky.

Right now I’m building a tower on a friend’s server.  Everyone is building a tower.  Eventually these will be pasted into a wall to make a castle built by everyone.  It’s a lot of fun and should be beautiful when it’s done.

Will it still be beautiful when the proverbial child comes dancing through and we scatter to other projects in other places?

Yes, I truly believe that.

I Have No Excuse For This

Gaki is Happy

For all your healing needs!

For all your healing needs!

This one’s for Ryan.

Pollen On The Breeze

This is going to be a bit out of character for me, so please be patient.  I’m talking about personal issues, both mine and those of people I have learned to call Friend.  Normally when I talk about such subjects I cloak them in so much allegory and misdirection that only someone who knows me very well would know what I was really talking about.

Many of you probably know that I have been involved in the Relics of Orr Podcast, a podcast about Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and the community as a whole.  I’m also willing to bet that a majority of you found your way to my own small corner of the internet through the Relics of Orr.  Lord knows I haven’t been pimping myself on the Guild Wars 2 Guru as much as I used to.

Today I got some very sad news.  Ryan, our fearless leader, not to mention the fiercely beating power crystal at the heart of the Golem that is Relics, has had enough.  His reasons are his own and I don’t feel like it’s my place to air his laundry.  If you’d like a more complete reasoning I urge you to ask him about it.  I have a lot of respect and love for the man (as I do for every one of my friends and cohorts) and I sincerely wish him success in whatever future projects he turns his hands and voice to.

He has said that he wants the podcast to reach a nice even episode 45.  The forums are staying put, all the podcasts will still remain available and the guild will continue to function as normal.  So rest assured, the community that has built up around Relics isn’t going to be scattered like pollen on the breeze.

That’s what’s happening with the podcast, but what’s going to happen with me?  I’m not sure yet.  I feel like my blog may have suffered because of the podcast.  Perhaps because I got all my yapping done on-air I felt less inclined to yap about stuff in text.  I do know that I very much enjoyed my times on the Relics podcast.  I’ve learned a lot about myself and fallen in love all over again with the Guild Wars community.  This level of involvement has been an entirely new experience for me.  I’ve been scared about negative reactions from people, but I’ve also learned courage and a good deal of patience.  This whole ‘being involved’ thing has gotten into my blood and is something I don’t think I can shake.

I was a blogger before Relics, and I shall remain a blogger even after, come what may.  So, for now, I’m once again just one woman spouting her nonsense to one small corner of the internet.  Tomorrow? Who knows.

Nothing like a LoLCharr to brighten your day, right? RIGHT!?!

Coming Up For Air

It’s been an exciting week.  If you ever want to learn a piece of software from scratch, taking on an ambitious project with a tight deadline is a VERY good way to do so.  When in college, I was trained in 3D Studio Max.  For this project I only had access to Maya.  I can only compare the experience to a trial by fire.  I used every cheat I knew of to get the job done quickly, and I’m still not entirely done.

I have been pretty lucky, however.  The program has only crashed on me once, and only one of my Grand Plans has gone awry.  As we speak I’m rendering out my 3D scenes.  All I have left to do is assemble everything and upload!

I have to admit to being scared stiff, however.  This community has artistic talent in spades and more passion than you could shake a stick at.  I’ve stayed away from the other submissions; partly out of fear and partly out of a desire to not be tempted to copy anybody.  Some of my friends have kept me abreast of some of the stand-out submissions though.  I hear Elixabeth Claire has something nice, and there was something about guinea pigs.  (those guinea pigs have me nervous about my chances!)

But I’m in the home stretch, and very excited to see this video completed (not to mention to get to work on my next project!).  So for all my readers, thank you all so much for your support.  If it wasn’t for you I don’t know if I would have had the courage to go for this.

Here’s a sneak peak 🙂

Piggie loves you!

The Loneliest Gamer

This week has been a very lonely one for me.  At work I have moved desks and am essentially cut off from the rest of my department.  At home my husband has started raiding again. And online, my usual haunts have been mysteriously absent of people.

There’s a couple people I’m seeing more of through RIFT, but they are either stubbornly clinging to a server on which I’m no longer playing or clapped in irons by a spousal leveling contract.  I’d like to have my own spousal leveling contract, but due to his general aversion to elves, my husband’s distain for RIFT edges ever closer into the ‘hatred equal to the power of a thousand burning suns’ territory every time he takes a peek over my shoulder.  I did manage to beg and whine at him for a contract involving alts in Guild Wars 2, but who the heck knows when that will come out.

All of this running around and being lonely has got me thinking about a couple of things, namely server structure and Guild Wars 2’s dynamic events.

RIFT is a petty good game.  It’s well put together, astonishingly bug-free, pleasant to look at, and enjoyable.  The rifts and invasions are fun, bringing the community together and fostering a sense of camaraderie.  As fun as it is though, I can’t help but feel that something is wrong.

I’m going to use RIFT as a bit of a whipping boy here.  I’m sorry.

Spirit has been chanting a little mantra to herself for the past few days: “Shatterbone, Defiant. Shatterbone, Defiant.”  This is because she’s getting a guest pass into RIFT for the weekend.  She needs to remember which server to roll on, then she needs to remember which faction to choose so that she can play with her friends.

Of all that has come out of the standardization of the MMO industry, these two mechanics are the most ridiculous.  They are unintuitive and anti-community.  For a game whose heart of hearts is playing with your friends, splitting your playerbase by server and then further by faction is idiocy and if it weren’t for the fact that there isn’t (yet) anything better available, it would never have lasted this long.

That and it just pisses me off.

I have always been attracted to the rough and tumble, the tribal, the gritty.  In DnD when the GM asked me to roll an elf (because of course, all girls play elves /eyeroll) I rolled a wild elf, covered her in grime, squatted on his posh couches, and made a point of depositing hunted game on his carpets.  I enjoy playing the uncouth and the wild, the grease-spattered and industrial.

In a game that separates its players by ideology there is no room for me on the side of the ‘good guys’.

Even getting beyond the server hurdle, finding a server to play where all my friends are, the ideological differences are enough to make me froth.  I must either be shoehorned into a society in which I don’t fit (I get enough of that in real life, THANKS!) or abandon some of my friends by the wayside.

These issues can be ignored or put up with, because I know that in Guild Wars 2 it will be different.  I’ll be able to play my rough and tumble charr with grease stains in her fur and join my friend the impeccably groomed asura whose first invention was a servitor golem so he’d never have to sully his hands with manual labor ever again.  We’ll be able to play together even if we initially chose different worlds because we’re not chained down to one.  Gone will be the days of playing the same character to level 20 or so ten times because all of your friends are scattered to the winds.

For now however, with my friends fractured, I have to settle for playing lonely.  That brings me to my second thought, a worry that hasn’t been sufficiently laid to rest yet by the promise of Guild Wars 2.

Dynamic Events

Using RIFT as a foil again (and its spiritual predecessor, Warhammer Online), the promise of dynamic events both excites and worries me.

In a perfect world you will either be in an area with a healthy population or playing with your friends.  We’ve heard repeatedly about how events will scale to accommodate more players.  Hordes of skritt will grow more numerous, broodmothers will become more cunning and use new skills.  What we haven’t heard about (at least as far as I know), is how well scaling works in the other direction.

The dynamic event analogues in RIFT are the rifts, footholds, and invasions.

  •   A rift is an event that randomly spawns on a single point in the map.  Mobs spawn from the rift and players must battle them.  When entering the influence of a rift you see on your right how many of what mob must be killed to advance the rift to the next stage.  Mobs range from multiple low level mobs to more difficult higher level mobs and even occasionally large bosses spawn.  Once the rift is closed each player receives awards based on their participation regardless of party affiliation.
  •  Occasionally a rift will spawn raiding parties.  These parties of ~5 mobs will travel along roads (which are normally safe) towards populated areas (quest hubs).  Invasion parties, if left unchecked, will gain a foothold.  This appears as an item in the road around which the raiding party congregates.  To destroy it you must kill all the mobs and then destroy the foothold item.
  •  Invasions are zone-wide spawning of rifts and raiding parties.  In an invasion the above two scenarios are happening everywhere on the map.  Roads become impassable and quest hubs come under siege.

In a perfect world the events are extremely fun.  Join a public group and defend your world.  The fun breaks down when you find yourself as a lonely gamer.

It’s possible to vanquish a minor rift by yourself if you’re very good and you play smart.  Raiding parties and footholds are a little more problematic, and major rifts should not be attempted by a player off on their lonesome.

During invasions (which only occur if the population can support it) players tend to congregate near quest hubs, fighting off the raiding parties and nearby rifts, as well as looking for the invasion boss who rewards some pretty sweet prizes.

If you are a lonely gamer off on your own in an awkward part of the map and an invasion spawns you are in some serious trouble.  The rift events scale downward very poorly, and that is my concern about the dynamic events of Guild Wars 2.

During and shortly after launch the events will be massive affairs of pitched battles with potentially dozens of players taking part.  What happens months, years down the road when the newest expansion content is the hot thing?  What happens when we’re all battling Palawa Joko in Elona (I’m calling that now) if someone wants to roll a human in Tyria?  Alone in the world, will that character be capable of completing dynamic events on its own?

I’m fully aware that a charr taking down the Shatner single-handedly sounds a bit ridiculous.  I don’t expect massive events like that to be soluble, but I also don’t expect them to be the bread and butter of the dynamic event content.  It’s not unreasonable to expect the pirate invasion outside of Lions Arch to be soluble.  If one person is attempting that mission if they pull carefully I think they should be able to complete it.  Perhaps they are not able to put out the fires and kill pirates, so maybe I could drive off the pirates but the buildings will have burned down and then the villagers must rebuild.

We already know events will be multifaceted.  What I want to know is if I’m going to be punished with impossible odds on top of loneliness should I find myself forced to play alone.