Escape

The world is a scary place, always has been but lately it feels like they went and turned it up to 11. And here I am writing about games, MMOs. These two things are connected, more than you know. So I am going to dip into some serious stuff for one post, not far but if you are easily bothered and offended? Go read something else.

As you may know I have had Cancer in the past. Beat it. Thing is, winning that sort of battle is seldom a one and done. So it did come back, last year. Got into one of my kidneys. I lost it but hey, I have a spare so no biggy. Then they started to chemo treatments. In the middle of a pandemic I became one of the very immuno-compromised people. That was a bit disconcerting but I made it through. Then my left arm started hurting and they ran a very short test that ended with ‘you sit still there while we make a surgery appt for you this week’ Angiogram and three stents later and I am back on the road. Sometimes I feel like I am an old beater of a car in a Nascar race and the only thing keeping me going is a really good pit crew.

There are a lot of stories connected with all of this that I will not do right now. Hopefully I will get to meet some of you, some day, and we can sit down and I will make you laugh and feel bad about it because you are laughing at all the things that seem to hit me. I am ok with that. And I hope that we get that chance, I really do.

The thing that keeps me going, well a distant second to a very loving wife and kids? Games. The chance to escape, to make my own stories and be the hero. To talk to people almost every day when I am home and quite shut in. To be able to travel if only in my minds eye or on a little screen. Even writing this is an escape valve. I wrote Thank you a long time back but it still applies. I do appreciate the people who make the games, the people I play with and even those of you who put up with my ramblings and stories, year in and year out. You are my Escape.

That is one of the reasons I do not talk about my health that often, really. Because I think that my game stuff might be your escape and I see no reason to drag you down with my load. We all play these long involved games and look at the new generation with their games and shake our heads. Fast, in and out, memed but not immersive. Dead by Daylight is one my eldest loves and I watch a bit but I soon wander off to do my own thing. It is an awesome game, do not get me wrong, but it is not for me, there is no building, not enough progression and choices.

I do not begrudge her what she enjoys and she and the rest of my family return the favour. We play board games together on a regular basis and laugh and enjoy things each in our own way.

I know I said it before but it still holds true. Thank you one and all. Those who make the games, who play them with me, who have followed this odd trip? You are appreciated.

fly it like you won it.

m

oh, ps. One of the fun visits to Iceland? Locked into an Escape Room with another CSM (Cagali Cagali) and two devs of Eve Online. We did make it out and beat the clock.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Bet you think this blog is about you

“If only we studied the stars as much as we study our own reflections.”
― Kamand Kojouri

Now in games there are sometimes chances to ‘get fancy’ Where you can wear a hat, paint your ship, change your outfit or an emote. It may not make any difference, tactically, but for some people it is everything.

As a CSM I occasionally get people asking me to ask the Eve Devs for ‘cat ears’. Another common ask is the ability to have Corporation or Alliance Logos on a ship. These things, as I said, would not add anything except aesthetics to the game and something for the owner of said ship to take pride in. And I get it, I really do.

Elder Scrolls Online” Tons of Vanity items. Outfits, pets, housing, effects, all of it available . . . at a price. See, that is the other side of the coin, this stuff has value to players and so it also can be monetized. It is an opportunity to add some pixels, give no new advantage, but the player is happy and shows off the bling bling.

Minecraft? Skins and just the whole creation effect is one huge vanity. There is very little winning of that game and a lot more of ‘look at THIS!’. I do not play WoW but I am fairly sure that some of the stuff is to look good more than it is to be good (darling). I think MMOs do feed on our need to pretty up or ugly down. To modify and design and appreciate the art we have made within their art.

and I am sure, irl and in game

you loook Mah vell ous

fly it like you won it

m

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Just a Few Modifications

Okay a bit of classics to set the stage

The particular “ship of Theseus” version of the thought puzzle was first introduced in Greek legend as reported by the historian, biographer, and essayist Plutarch:

The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned from Crete had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their places, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.— Plutarch, Theseus[2]

Now games face similar issues and the two games I have focused on here, these past few weeks have a distinct difference of opinions. Elder Scrolls allows all sorts of Modifications and third party add-ons, Head over to twitch and find that NONE of the streamers views look like yours do when you start the game. They have things for hunting down items in game, inventory, maps, damage and spell trackers, anything goes.

I am not ashamed to say in that game I have a few of the ‘standard add-ons” (as they call them) such as a mini-map and a skyshard tracker. But others I try and lay aside because I find the game becoming less and less like the game and more like the graphics on top. So If is stream (really got to do some of that soon, make a note) then Mine will be a bit modified but still closer to the original . . . that is how I like it.

Eve online, on the other hand, discourages ‘add-ons’. I only say discourages because I know the clever players of the game (some of whom are programmers in their own rights) tend to find ways around silly little things like ‘rules’. Some of the more imaginative ones I miss but they are not allowed now and I would be a fine one to be banned from a game I have spent so much time in for using some dubious add-on.

But for you . . . does a game NEED to be played the way the devs made it? Can we do better as the player base and if we do . . . is it the same ship, the same game.

fly it like you won it

m

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Listening

The sounds of a game can make or break it. Some games we have grown up with and would not have them any other way. The dog laughing at us in Duck Hunt. Mario themes and sounds. All the way back tot he distinctive plonk of a ball hitting the paddle in Pong. Games have sounds to connect you to them to make them more in depth. A Buddy of mine went into the code for Asteroids and replaced the sounds with himself imitating the sounds. So the guns actually went pew pew in his voice.

wierd

But modern games . . . MMOs which is what I have been talking about for this month. They have specialists who work to make the auditory experience something special. Composers who write scores for full symphonies . . .

which for me was

I like music, I like sounds. I appreciate the change in tone when I run from boardwalk to sand. The sounds of lasers pulsing out from my ship, the music that rises as combat begins or relaxes as I take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the game.

I like ambient sounds like rain pattering or thunder in the distance (even in Minecraft) Eve has station ambient voices in the distance that always make you strain to hear what the hell they are saying. (Vets of Eve at this point tend to make the joke ‘Eve has sound?’)

Then there are comms and hearing other players talk and laugh and joke. Talking to devs and hearing them work hard to do something that I think is more than just a job. Listening to Podcasts and twitch streams and the passion of the players for the various games that we play.

Sound means something, hell it means a lot. My hearing is fading, slowly, with my age and I have to turn things up more, say what? to family and I miss the acuity that I once had. If your hearing is fine? Use it, enjoy and revel in it. I am envious

fly it like you won it

m

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Watching

Funny thing about vid games these days is the idea of watching others play rather than doing it yourself. I Guess it makes sense as people will watch basketball, football, etc but the difference (to me) is that I have not the knees or endurance to play a field sport anymore but I can still play video games, so why would I watch others?

Twitch, youtube . . . . I have streamed on both and been shocked when folks actually watched what I do. My Youtube channel is mainly lessons on what and how to play Eve and specific missions that tend to trip people up It is not to garner views and I do not consider myself a streamer as much as someone trying to help others get into a game. See, that is the thing, a lot of the streamers get right into the action of it but they do not “teach” so as an outsider to the game you quite often can be totally lost. BTW this gives me a great idea for making a couple of more videos, new lessons (/me makes a note)

So you browse through games on twitch, for example. If they are running endgame content or higher end stuff then you mainly see a riot of colur and flash (in the case of Elder scrolls online) or complex boxes and a scrolling set of targets (In Eve) and very little to connect you to what is going on. In the case of some games there may even be mods or overlays active that make it even more confusing. Then on top of that you have graphics and cheers and ‘so and so subscribed’ and all the other extras that are part and parcel of being big name streamer . . . but do they connect you to the game?

Thing I did not know . . . some streamers even have agencies to represent them. You know, like talent agencies for actors. And here I am, writing a blog. I feel like a previous generation watching the future whoosh past me, a man in a horse and buggy, looking at cars race by.

No I did not link my stream or youtube channel because that is not what this little article is about.

fly it like you won it

m

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Join the Collective

A player in Eve asked me if I could recommend a corp (guild in Eve terms) to them and I had to just send them an article from way back that someone better than I wrote about what to look for in a corp.

Ya see, in Eve joining can be a bit more of a trust issue than in other groups. Oh this is not to say that skullduggery does not happen elsewhere, just a bit less likely. I was in Champions Online and one group I joined had a note right in the announcements of one player who should never be invited. The first thought through my head? “Must be an Eve player branching out” In Eve corp thefts are a thing so you allow people to join . . .carefully. If you are not careful then things can happen . . .

Wayyy back when I started Eve I was in a mining corp. The CEO referred to me as the Cat because I would wander off and come back at regular intervals but I walked my own path, even then. But one new recruit decided to be a bad guy. He shot at the others in the corp, tried to steal some things . .. you know, create havoc.

Thing is? There was not a lot to steal nor was there a lot to shoot. Word got out fast and he left empty handed and kind of pissed that he had even joined such a nickel and dime group. He went to find better targets. I think his telling us that was his biggest mistake. I started to track him . . . every time he joined a corp I sent the CEO a note explaining what this guys history was . . . and he would be on the street in an npc group again, quite quickly. One corp even added some of his alts and I included that in future notes. I ‘chased’ him down the information highway for a few months until he joined a corp that specialized in shenanigans and I sent that CEO a note congratulating him on having a proper new member. I stopped the info war and went back to my own game. I dropped it because being a member of that group would show on his employment record and be a bit of a stain, one way or another.

I do not know if he ever learned that I was doing this and I honestly do not care. It was not so much revenge upon him as it was protecting others from his activities for a bit. I did not stop all safaris (an eve term) but I made one a bit tougher, hung bells on a cat, as it were.

So no, I do not have great advice for people to find a perfect corp because I am not sure that there is one . . . just one right for you.

second story, much shorter. I was in a bar with some buddies long before I was married and we would admire the women in the bar. I was in the middle of the group when a new young lady entered and the guys on either side of me gave their opinion at the same tame. “Wow, what a babe” I heard in my right ear as the guy on the left was saying “Yeeuch!” What we want and like is a personal thing. There is no perfect female, no perfect male, just the ones you like and who like you. I hope you find someone like that.

fly it like you won it

m

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Pvp

Someone dropped me a note this morning in relation to one of the common threads in the Eve forums. Far be it from me to steal an idea and run with it so here we go.

PvP, Player vs Player is a thing in some games. For some it is very isolated and you have to purposely sign up for it. Elder Scrolls and Champions both have duels and Elder sScrolls has Battlegrounds and Cyrodiil. A normal casual player can do dailies and play and decorate to their hearts content and never be hunted by some other player who ‘wants what you got’ Or just to see you blow up.

Then there is Eve

Image ‘stolen’ from Crossingzebras.com

In Eve there are various parts of space with differing rules but if someone wants you dead and you undock? They can try to make that happen. Yes, even in the most hisec systems this can come to pass. You may not be ‘worth’ a kill and may not drop good stuff, some do not care. They kill for the salt . . . to hear you complain about how vastly unfair it all is.

{side note, in the forums we see such mounds of salt but sometimes they ring so fake as for us to think that maybe the salt farmers make a character just to whine about their other characters so someone will notice them. Kind of sad when you think about it}

In Lowsec pirates roam and gangs hunt, there is ‘better stuff’ there but as I advise the rookies . . . you will be a bunny in a forest of wolves. Act accordingly and do not complain if and when the wolves catch you. Heck I take it a step further and send congratulations to people who kill me in the game. There is a slight possibility that I do so to drive the salt farmers mad. Being nice is also a weapon when properly applied. Do not believe me? Go read Taming of the Shrew.

The note I got this morning also linked the vid

and I have to say it is a well thought out vid and well done. Worth your time. No MMOs are not as huge as they would like to be. No, full on hunting of new players is not a great way to keep said players in the game. Eve has only been around since 2003 so somehow it has managed to get past the No’s and find some yes within. It does NOT have a huge (relative to other games) player base but it has a loyal one (I am included in this). I m not a hardcore PvP player but I exist in the world of them because I can and I am proof that you can make your way when the rules and environment is against you. It is just a bigger puzzle.

I hope that whatever game you choose to play challenges you and is not something that you have ‘solved’ already

fly it like you won it

m

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Never Mind, We Will Do It Ourselves

There are times when to content presented to you in a game is not quite enough. That is one of the BEST parts of player organizations. A good player guild/corp/team/whatever starts to find things for the group to do that is either applying the group to team content made for larger groups or making things to be done within the parameters of the game.

I mentioned, earlier, that Champions devs do a once a month costume contest but they are not the only ones to do such things. A lot of the larger groups will hold similar events and award prizes from their personal assets. A single person might hold a hide and seek game for new heroes. Within the game there is a lot a person can do to make things for others to enjoy.

In Elder Scrolls Online the guild I am in (Auld Souls) is going to have a housing decorating contest. Many guild have raffles, tours, group runs of content, and other events for their own people or even for non members in hopes of recruiting more to the fold.

See, that is a key thing. Other players are what differentiate an MMO from a single player rpg. They supply support, background and content that the devs could not. Oh, you could play it solo and not interact with others but you are kind of missing the point. (For the record my wife is playing ESO solo . . . and having fun). Just as with Facebook and other ‘social platforms’ we ARE the content as well as the consumers.

And the game is better for it.

Eve . . . wow, the solo play for this game is low but it has lasted SO long because it provided tools for us to do thing, amazing things and awful things and bizarre things. People will draw in space using anchorable items, run races (Rixx Javix ran the Death Races and it was fantastic. ) We have wars to the point of making it into the Guinness book and live meetups just to talk about all that and more. Eve is the closest to a Facebook model of us being that which we consume (does this clown taste funny to you?)

So in that game? become part of it, become a producer as well as consumer. Trust me, it is more fun that way.

fly it like you won it

m

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Playing Wrong

In Every MMO there are know-it-alls who will tell you that you are bad at the game, playing it wrong, doing it wrong, should uninstall and go back to wherever you came from. I alluded to the fact, in a previous post, that I tend to drive that sort of person crazy because I often make less than optimal choices for character and play to see if I can and what will happen. They don’t like that.

I have made a choice that is right for me and their opinion is noted and filed but ‘it is my ponytail and I like it’ (Children’s book reference, you get it or you don’t) The thing is, I like stretching the boundaries, now and again, and sometimes I d o it just because I like an extra challenge.

In Eve Online this lead to me gaining a reputation as an honest man. Take a moment to appreciate that. This is a game where scams are allowed and celebrated, backstabbing is expected, and I am known for not doing any of that. I run a charity in the game called Operation Magic School Bus and I fly to career systems and hand out fitted ships to newish pilots. I am active in Eve politics, commonly known for being dominated by null sec organizations but I run (and occasionally get elected) as an independent.

In ESO I do look at the ‘builds’ that others use and write about but I also will decide I like the look of this armor better or that style of play just does not suit me. And off I go, doing it wrong again and having fun. For the record? Yes I have been thrown out of a dungeon group and get some funny looks from others but hey, I am still enjoying the game.

I think that is what it comes down to . . . for some gamers (like myself) it is not about being the best or even good. Just have fun and enjoy the ride.

So, do you play wrong? if so celebrate it

fly it like you won it

m

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Wanted

In group play for a game there is often a class or task that is less common and one of the make or break jobs for the run to be successful. Making a character or style to fit this is a nice way to feel wanted . . . IF you can do the job.

Champions Online, first, this time. When there are some of the big event battles what is needed is a tank who can stand there, keep the interest of the bad guy and take it on the chin. It actually demands a really high end build and a bit of skill, trust me, I have been on the edge of one of those battles in a half-assed tank and was practically evaporated. You will see groups standing, waiting, for a decent tank to show up when fighting the Giant Monsters because it will be a total wipe without them. Some of those tanks are known to the regular players and greeted like ‘oh thank god, he’s here, now’ A hero among heroes.

In some games you can ‘gun tank’ by which I mean kill it before it gets to hurt you. Division can be that way at time although the bullet sponge mechanics in that game are always a bit Jarring. Who knew that it might take all your shotgun ammo to bring down a garbage-man?

In ESO? There are the PUG dungeon runs. I have waited 15 minutes plus if I sign in as a dps (which is the default role) Then I made a Tank recently. (Character concept is that he is lazy and does not want to work too hard fighting) I have not had to wait longer than a minute before being scooped up and into a dungeon. I do not know if the specialized healer class is similar but I am willing to bet that it is. I have done my best with my tank in ESO and even made a second one with a very BAD character concept. This guy does not use or carry weapons. Now understand that punching is possible but very ineffective. The last run I was on another player kindly asked if I was lacking gear and a second chimed in saying ‘Nah bro, he us tanking bare handed, total Chad move’ Can someone explain if that is a good thing or a bad to this old man?

So lastly we come to Eve Online. Logi (the healers of the game) are always needed and if the fleet is smart, valued. Just as some Champions runs will not start without a good tank? I have seen fleets not get going or stand down because of a lack of Logi. I flew Logi in incursions and in the Edencom fleets. The FCs would watch you to make sure you knew what you were doing because they knew ships depended on you being on task and not just an F1 monkey. (Eve term, we tend to have our guns fired using the F1 key so dps is low skill for the most part).

If you play solo none of the above applies, of course. But that is not what MMOs are all about, is it?

I hope that whatever you play? You are wanted and appreciated.

fly it like you won it

m

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment