Monday, 4 June 2007

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.


Sharkith said...

Hi Takits. One question why did you keep going back?

Littlefirby said...

to the shade?

It felt like the only toon that I was honestly happy playing... that and the fact that I spent a great deal of time and effort on the ML's template etc...

But with the shade it was those rare victories against higher RR opponents that kept me going back... its kind of like playing golf... you remember the good shots and try to forget the bad ones... I had innumerable fights that I lost horribly... but only relatively few good ones... the good ones were so good though they were worth trying to extend the number.

Roz / Zora / Ambera / Ascarii said...

Hey takits.

Here's a question I'd like to ask you (& all soloers): what's the most enjoyable aspect of playing an MMO for you? Is it fighting a human opponent 1 on 1? Competing with your realm mates / enemies for the top spot in RPs? Having people to talk to while you play, even though you're not grouped with them? The unpredictable environment in RvR?

I'm doing a lot of reading on this stuff at the moment and one argument that's been put forward is that people who play alone in MMOs choose an MMO over a single-player game because it gives them an audience - they're gloryhounds, essentially. But that doesn't ring true to me, thinking about you, or Jams. What do you think?

Littlefirby said...

In all honesty I think I was an oddity of the game, solo isn't necessarily a choice but it can be the result of a combination of situations and for me that is partly the reason for my solo playstyle.

When I began the game I grouped a lot on the hero and essentially I loved the thrill of getting into various fights with some known and some unkonwn groups, midget mafia as an example but then I was solo in real life so to speak... after a time I found myself a beautiful girlfriend and chose to be able to spend time with her, meaning I could no longer commit to fixed groups or times for play making it harder to progress, however I still loved the game for what it was, an escape, and wanted to continue to play and given how hard it is to solo in a MMO like DAOC so my soloing was partly a product of that circumstance.

Another contributing factor was my departure from Chosen and then from Fallen Spirits in a set of less than pleasant circumstances which further fuelled my drive to play a solo character to be able to enjoy the game "alone".

Now on to the question of why enjoy a game "alone" in the MMO environment... while I am both in and out of game an antisocial animal I do have need for interaction... which is important... the banter and laughs that I have had in the game have kept things interesting far beyond any game I have ever played before... but not only this... fighting enemies that have real brains, reaction times etc is so much more challenging than playing the same old FPS where you know when you go round the corner the zombie will jump out at knee level to chew through your legs is so much more challenging.

Fighting the likes of Theodon 20-30 times he was higher RR than me and it was a challenge.... to go back to my post to Shark, of those 20-30 I may have only beaten him 2-3 times but every fight was different... something you cannot claim of a game you play offline.

Admittedly there was an element of competeing against other shades... but it was a healthy competition so far as I could tell... but it wasnt the driving factor for my time spent online.

Sharkith said...

could you mind me asking you to blog more details about the move to being solo for us? In particular something about what happened - not the details just what happened to you and the effects it had on you.

I would like to see more of the details - its important for an analysis I want to run of group relations.

You were also an E&E - thats a very important part of the story.

Littlefirby said...

can do, I will try to put some thoughts on progression through game from group hero/bard to solo shade as well as some of what happened along the way... it's an epic tale that I will have to break into bite size chunks as and when time permits.

Nice to be able to have some direction as to what would make interesting reading for others. So thanks for letting me know what you want to see.