Wednesday, 11 July 2007

DOT - Damage Over Time

In the game I played a character who had the facility to inflict damage over time... as well as massive sharp force trauma (too much CSI)... but having had to engage a little more with what we gamers refer to as "real life" of late it seems that there are plenty of things in this world of real life willing to inflict damage over time on real people.

I think back to the times when the gaming community I was (and still like to think I am) part of to an extent lost one of its members to real tragedyof real life I wonder if we truly appreciated that which others were going through... I know from my own perspective that losing a friend at a young age is hard... I lost a good friend of mine named Daniel Liam Munday when he was but 19 years old and 4 days younger than I was... he was a very good friend although I knew him for a relatively short time... less than 2 years.

Now I visit my mother and watch the fairly rapid decline of her health... she needed to loose a few pounds admittedly... but the weight loss that she has gone through in the past few weeks is shocking... I lost the same roughly after a bout of serious food poisoning... 4 stone in a few weeks.. but she hasnt the stomach for eating and today I visited to see her but found myself initially looking at the face of a stranger. Chemo has her hair gone... very GI Jane I might add... but it's somehow not right on someone who is almost 65.

Lung cancer and all the other crap she has put up with... raising the three sons she has for starters and a husband who loves her to bits but cant seem to be able to help no matter how hard he tries as well as her life spent in the care of others... and at each turn she has to deal with yet more obstacles... the latest of which is the announcement today that she has tested positive for MRSA....

The Damage Over Time element of real life seems so much harsher than the DOT of a game.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Anger's origin... 32 years old one would think that one should have emotions under control... but when you get told your mother has terminal lung cancer I guess it refocusses the mind.

It may seem that I can bleat like the best of the rest... but when all is said and done... I think the bloke upstairs has a sick sense of humour.

My mother is no angel... nobody is the angel that they would like to think that they are... however she has spent over 30 years in the role of a nurse caring for terminally ill cancer patients and only 6 months after she retired she was diagnosed with breast cancer... after a long hard fight she beat that and went to visit my brother in Australia for a couple of months with a clean bill of health... all seemed good... then 2 months ago she went for an x-ray to be told she had a shadow on her lung... those in the know know what that means... those that dont know will be enlightened to find out that in many circumstances that a shadow on the lung represents cancer of one type or another.

I have spent many many hours in tears with the comfort of my partners hugs keeping me sane... but taking mum to chemotherapy 3 weeks ago was a blessed experience for me....

then came today... second round of chemo... and an alergic reaction... apparently she reacted to the drugs and balooned as well as turning blue... nobody knew what to do right away... but they worked it out and she lived... the harshness of chemotherapy hit another level today...

I know not why i should include this in the blog but its my blog and I'll cry if I want to...

Monday, 4 June 2007

The changing faces of a player... part 1

One of the things about a game like DAoC is that it allows those who play the game to pick and choose from various types of server and within that choice there are multiple realms to choose from and these days once you arrive in your chosen realm you can create up to 10 different characters... each character with a different name, characteristics, benefits and skills available to choose from... something I will come back to.

When I began playing Takitothemacs there was an innocence in my thinking and I was unaware of how seriously some people took the game. Among the more serious "hard core" gamers there was so little tolerance for mistakes that very quickly some players judged others by their performance in certain situations... as a hero my role was to provide protection to the druid who was healing others in the group, well at least that was what I was told having spent 2 minutes chasing after a troll who was trying to beat up one of our caster classes, unfortunately our druid was bludgeoned to death by a rather vindictive dwarf with an axe... I wasn't ready for the hard core criticism that was directed towards me for such fundamental errors, errors which I know now to be so basic that they would be unforgivable now so I opted for random groups with friends who all knew we were more likely to go out and fight and possibly die horribly but ultimately laugh about the fight and the mistakes we all made.

As time progressed my original guild that I joined when I started the game seemed to change and the tolerance for my silly play and comments earned me some scorn so I decided to leave and start a guild of my own with some other friends, we had high hopes... just like the ant and the rubber tree plant... however Phoenix Rising was lacking in substance and no matter what we did over the months of the guilds lifespan we couldn't seem to get things moving... after a time the guild disbanded and I went in search of a new surrogate family (guild).

Having spent some weeks running throughout the game while grinding out the killing of monsters to progress my hero and bard combo to the goal of getting to level 50 where everything would get easier I grouped with various members of the guild Chosen, all of who seemed to have a similar outlook to the game as I did... it was after all called a game for a reason... it was supposed to be fun. Finally I joined Chosen and found some excellent people in the guild, grouping was fun again and one of the key figures who I spent a great deal of time with was a blademaster called Gitt. Even when we met in real life for the first time we reminisced about a session grouping in a dungeon called Coruscating Mine where we took a group of lower level characters for what we called a "powerleveling" session and began attacking some of the toughest monsters in the place... abysmals... with my bard playing endurance for the 2 of us, my hero and his blademaster chain killed these monsters for hours. The group changed and there was a queue of lower level characters waiting for their spot in our group when another person dropped out of the group. Banter was good and in the group channel we had a number of "noobs" saying how amazing it was to be getting great xp from 2 characters in their high 40's when it all seemed to go wrong... perhaps our communication went awry but Gitt pulled one way and I pulled the other... all of a sudden we had the entire spawn of these mobs attacking us... the lower level characters casting all they had in terms of damage and heals on myself and Gitt... my bard healing all he could too. Gitt and I using all our toys as best we could, tripleweild, spirit of the hunt, ignore pain, first aid (back in the days when you could drop out of combat, pop the RA and get back in the fight in seconds) and afterwards we sent messages to each other on the private chat channel saying how we both thought we were about to have that most heinous of DAoC situations... a group wipe!

With the arrival of Shrouded Isles there were new areas to explore and it was decided in the guild that those of us that hadn't made the last push to 50 would all help each other out and get that top level to allow us to compete as a guild in RVR... of course it would be easy once we hit that magical level 50.

After 43 days of real life time invested in playing the hero from level 1 it finally happened... Takitothemacs hit level 50 on a day when Gitt had decided to stick by my side in the game until I hit 50... from early morning to late night we moved around in the Shrouded Isles... but finally attained my goal... or so I thought.

The routes to finding a persona...

I visited my brother's flat in Fulham one Saturday, early 2002 I think it was and in his study he began to show me a new game he was playing where he was moving his character through a lush green world... he decided to get a drink but wanted to carry on moving towards his goal so told me to take control and showed me the basics. Over the few minutes I was running this character through the most complex environment I had ever seen in a game I was amazed at what I was seeing and asked my brother to explain more about the game to me...

Suffice it to say that he explained enough and showed me enough that on the way home I stopped off at a shopping centre and was lucky enough to find a copy of the game called Dark Age of Camelot, once home I installed the game and called my brother to find out how to get started, telling me to choose the Prydwen server and then the realm of Hibernia and create a Firbolg Hero and the other stipulation was that I had to include Mac in the name somehow, his character was Macsimum encompasing his nickname and part of our family name.

Well not wanting to disappoint I rushed through character creation allocating points to this new characters stats including 5 points into the intelligence stat... oh the irony of that was to haunt me for plenty of time to come... not the most intelligent of decisions to make... but it was exciting to be able to play something on the computer where I would be able to interact with others via the web.... Thus was the birth of Takitothemacs the Hibernian Hero of Prydwen.

Many days and even nights were spent running this character around the lands of Hibernia terrorising scared monsters of different size and ferocity and often being terrorised by monsters in places that I had no sense being in in the first place. And as he gained levels the game evolved a great deal, epic armours were introduced and one afternoon in Tir na mBeo ( a village in the realm I called home) I saw a level 50 hero wearing this most reveared sparkling armour known as the epic armour, it was a sight to behold and a look to which I among many aspired to.

Something was amis however, the hero was a slow lumbering hulk and while he was able to deal massive blows with various weapons the blows were slow and as the sort of person who enjoyed what was known as RVR (realm versus realm) combat, pitting my wits and skills against those of my enemy realms. While the fights in groups were enthralling, running alone to the RVR zones became frustrating very quickly without some other toys to play with. Speed, heals, magic, buffs and a host of other attractive options open to others. As a result I embarked on a quest to find a character more to my taste, I created a bard to support my hero, people thought of me as mad for rolling a bard as a "buffbot" but I explained the need for speed and endurance was foremost in my mind and for a time made things more viable, however I soon found that playing 2 accounts in RVR was harder than it appeared... even wearing the glittering epic armour.

An ingame friend decided to run an event over a few weeks and I decided that it was the time to use wisely so I logged in both accounts and created 2 new characters, a druid and a nightshade, a "proper" buffbot and an assassain, perfect for my playstyle I thought, being able to go solo where I liked undetected and pick and choose my fights... it was significantly harder to play this class than first anticipated, and RVR at any level lower than 50 was impossible due to not having the optimum spec... so many occasions I shelved the project of my assassain and went off to level another character, be it that the makers of the game released a new class to tempt me away from my project or the frustration was too much... so over the time I managed to develop not only the Hero and Bard to 50th level but, also a ranger, 2 wardens, a vampiir all to top level and ultimately finished the character Littlefirby, and what a sneaky little sod I thought he was.

The trials and tribulations of playing a solo stealther were a lot more than I thought they would be... not having the right weapon, poison or equipment ready, starting a fight with the wrong opponent (a lesson I still haven't learned, but even in real life I have never been one to back down and I'm a glutten for punishment). So many times I resolved to retire from the stealther play that I went to another character only to find that I was like a fish out of water... ultimately I ended up back in the guise I knew and loved best... the persona identified in the game as Littlefirby, a persona that it took me a long time to mould into what it became... and one I fell back into whenever I needed the comfort of solitude which I was able to get from the collection of pixels representing my alter ego.

So I begin

Well the first post is no doubt the most difficult to pen, perhaps the uncertainty of what to say or perhaps even what not to say... but at the end of the day it's my blog and I'll cry if I want to sentiment comes to mind.

Angers Futility, punctuation not withstanding, came to me whilst thinking of a title for the blog, and in my current state of mind there is a great deal of anger that I feel towards many things... most of which I can do little or nothing about, but the realisation of just how little I can do outlines the futility of that anger.

I used to think I should write a book, perhaps the next fantast epic along the lines of Feist's Magician or Tolkien's Lord of the Rings... much of my energy in writing though is spent on writing nasty emails to suppliers at work.... well we shall wait and see what I can write over time... this could be the first and last post... or it could be the begining of something that will grow over time.