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Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games
Things sure have
come a long way since I first played things like Tradewars on local BBSs
through a dial-up connection after getting home from Junior High in the
afternoons. Instead of the goode olde text-based gameplay, now we've got
3-D stuff that can fry even the most hotshot graphics cards and enough
person-to-person connections to people to make verbal communication obsolete.
things aren't really any different than beforefaster,
yes, more constantly demanding of time, yesbut I can't really say
things are really any "better" than they have been.
Now, I never touched Everquest or many other online RPGs,
though I did spend a few minutes playing Ragnarok Online while it was
doing the free beta. And for the current Online RPG experience, one day
my brother-in-law brought over a copy of Star Wars: Galaxies and invited
me to try it out. This was in August, and I knew, generally, how much
time MMORPGs would take away if I would let them. I was uneasy, at first,
since I was just about to start another semester in college
he kind of insisted, so I installed it and the adventure started.
big thing SWG has going for it is character customization: There's about
half a dozen races, each with traits modifiable by a convenient slider.
Why, you can just as easily make a muscular midget male Bothan scout as
you can make a dainty, towering, busty female Twi'Lek entertainer.
While it would have been fun to try on the entertainer for
size, I figured, "Eh, nah, that's the kind of character I'd want
to woo, not the one I'd want to roleplay." So, I went for the muscular
midget male Bothan instead. Gotta polarize these choices, y'see. Wouldn't
be proper if I didn't.
I technically started out with the scout class, though you tend to pick
up pretty much any skill avalable since you can be trained in any starting
class for pretty cheap, starting off. It's true, there's 250 skill points
to use and distribute, so I didn't have to worry about giving up skills
to get points back for quite a while. I started up on the Intrepid server
on Talus, a far-off moon of Corellia with two cities that nobody really
cared about when I started up there.
Beginning the game, I found the interface clunky and hard to work with,
though I later adjusted to it, since it did let me use the mouse wheel
to zoom in and outa critical thing for assessing situations and looking
more, I was a little short in the game. To give some idea of scale, my
character barely came up to just above wookie's knees.
What would I name a midget black Bothan with mean eyes,
long Batman ears, and a face like a horse? Equinis Des'Potic, that's what!
It was sufficiently feisty, with dominating overtones and an underlying
horsiness. And that was the way it was, and I liked
Looking through my archive, I don't have many (any) screenshots
taken of my early days on the game
but those were pretty boring,
anyway. I had my dinky little CDEF Pistol, my drab camo gear, and I was
good to go.
It should be noted at this point that in the game, money
plays a somewhat large role for those of us without any. I tried out the
little mission terminals with their delivery missions, netting a whopping
50 credits for each three-minute dropoff, but that just wasn't enough.
Since you need thousands of credits just to train new skills, that was
taking way too long.
So, I tried out something that would net me a thousand buckaroos: a whack-the-foozle
mission. I had to go to some creature's lair and blow it to bits!
One thing that should be said about three-foot-tall Bothans with wimpy
pistols: they don't too last too well against four-yard-long Greater Sludge
Panthers with six-inch claws.
Basically, most newbies (especially Bothan newbies) barely
qualify as light snacks for the local fauna on Talus. Sure, I could have
gone for the weaker sheep-like Paralopes, but at that point, I thought
those would be too tough for me to go after. I didn't have any qualms
about going up and poking a giant tiger to see how many seconds it would
take to eat me.
If I were an artist, I would draw you a picture of one of these beasties
licking its lips and saying, "Yum!" with a black Bothan leg
hanging out from between its teeth, because that's exactly what my character
was: monster chow, time and time again.
So I became very well acquainted with the local cloning
center in the nearest city, Nashal. At least I kept the items I'd picked
up along the way when I had to respawn in that manner, so very many times.
The developers initially wanted to make players do corpse runs and loot
the items off themselves, or charge insurance so they wouldn't have to
go do those runs. But that was very buggy, so it was temporarily disabled.
Later, they instituted a "decay" system such that no matter
what you did, if you died, all the items in your possession would degrade
1-5%nevermind the fact that several of these items decayed plenty
on their own, thank you very much. I will say to you that none of the
developers ever played the game for any amount of time whatsoever. In
fact, I think the people coding it were locked in some room in the LucasArts
basement and given instructions from the strange men in black suits upstairs.
There is no other explanation for some of the stuff that went on. Grrr!
Statistically balanced, myBut I digress.
Eventually, I discovered survey missions. Equinis didn't
have to kill anything (because, indeed, Equinis couldn't kill anything
worth killing). All I had to do was run back and forth and back
and forth for hours on end to spots with high mineral deposit percentages
and scan it with a survey tool. After that, I had some actual buying power,
so I picked up a decent Scout Blaster and started going to town on the
Vynocks, just to vent my previous frustration.
and here, if I could draw as well as that Ian
Machall guy could concerning his online experiences, I'd show Equinis,
with torn clothes and a maniacal grin on his face, blasting away at the
Talusian fauna. "MWAA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HAA!"
Things started picking up when I found out about the surveying-for-money
Another note about the developers: Anytime someone discovered
some sort of advantage, or something they could do to make money and save
time, they had to find a way to limit it so it wasn't too convenient.
The riflemen had their main weapon reduced to utter uselessness. The droid
engineers had their combat droid (The Probot, like an Imperial Probe Droid)
lowered in power and given permanent death when they were knocked out.
The Bio-Engineers had to deal with the fact that nothing they had worked
properly, and the Carbineers had to deal with the fact that their profession
was rather wimpy compared to Pistoleers, Commandos, or Bounty Hunters.
Some of these issues got fixed as the months went by, but most of them
In my case, the survey mission thing didn't stay below the radar, and
they extended the length of the trip my character had to go through to
complete a survey mission. That wasn't so bad, at first; it's only natural
that the deposits ought to be at least half a kilometer away. Then they
moved it to a kilometer, and then just a little over that
What could I do? I still had a wimpy combat character with
a moderately cheap gun, so I took up Artisan skills and started walking
and crafting at the same time to get money and experience. Aside from
getting eaten by the random aggressive creature I didn't see until it
was too late, I eventually built up enough experience to make mineral,
chemical, and other extractors. Setting those up and maintaining them
took an hour or so per day. For weeks, I had to be on every day, or my
harvesters would explode. Or worse, the mineral deposits might slightly
shift around, forcing me to move those extractors around so I could keep
having minerals for crafting.
combat skills, my character could handle the local gang-bangers and hunt
down lower-end creatures. Plus, the odd Dark Jedi popped up, and people
amassed a posse to get 'em taken care of, and I was glad to help out when
About halfway through September, while fighting off my assignments
at the University and neglecting my writing, game designing, and comic
work, I once again started to suspect what an incredible waste of time
Shrugging that off, I continued onwards and started picking advanced
classes to follow. What would I pick? A mighty architect? A skillful droid
designer? A crack-shot marksman???
Everyone in the game looked horribly-clothed with ugly colors. I could
barely stand looking at 'em. So, I picked the Tailor class to follow,
and spent a month beefing my character up to Master Tailor, with a side
order of Pistoleer. Yeah, he was a creature-blasting, mineral-harvesting,
hem-sewing dynamo as he ran back and forth doing survey missions.
I met some people along the way, we got along, and I started randomly
giving out nifty-looking clothes to those that were otherwise fashion-impaired.
The days of drab-colored clothes around Talus were numbered.
fact, I started getting noticed by the big-wigs with all the cash. A successful
fighter was having a weddingSWG characters with rings can get married!
The giant fly and the woman who loves him. (Sniff!) Such a beautiful
story. Gweem asked me what it would cost to keep me on retainer for the
wedding. I'd just spent around forty-five minutes fitting him for a new
outfit, and I was getting cranky. I asked for a million credits. He didn't
have that much, so I asked him for fifty thousand, no less. He gave it
If I could draw, here's where I'd show Equinis grinning
like a maniac with wads and wads of cash dripping from his hands, saying,
"Right! No complaints from me, then."
I naturally got invited to the wedding, and made everyone's
outfits for the occasion. Before then, I had no idea that a Tailor had
so much sheer power. o_O
Some people really liked to look good in the game. The more
demanding customers tended to be the really ultra-rich types that tipped
really huge amounts. That was
and then, I discovered the true power of a Tailor:
he could make bio-enhanced clothes. Bio-enhanced clothes are different
than armor. Armor can shield from attacks, but Bio-Enhanced clothes could
boost skills and look stylish at the same time.
met some people: Reea-flystalker
and Gnibadab Moobadab, who knew a bit of my mad tailoring
skills and invited me to join a mall.
The idea intrigued me. I'd been wanting to come aboard for
a while, so I took up Merchant skills and set up shop in the mall. We
started with a large house, but later moved into a huge Guild Hall.
We all got together and had a council about how we'd handle
it. A guy named Z-Zi was my bio-enhanced component supplier, and everyone
else tended to get special treatment when I made stuff up.
had a great group: Dillgar the Armorsmith, Youngie Makashi the Medic,
Nowdo Tings the Droid Engineer
We had everyone we needed to get
a full-blown enterprise going.
I made up a bunch of clothes, set up six vendors with various
styles in them, added in a truckload of Bio-Enhanced gear
had a great, big Grand Opening party to get it all rolling and the word
of people started coming in and buying stuffa marketer's dream.
I think I made the most money of anyonehundreds of thousands of
credits every couple of days. My character became very wealthy and could
actually afford good guns and the right size of mineral extractors and
all that good stuff. I helped out random newbies that came along, giving
them equipment, bio-enhanced clothes, and thousands of credits so they
wouldn't have to fight through it like I did. At the end of the day, I
had the nice warm, fuzzy feeling of having helped out and had a job well
came to me asking for help making outfits for beauty pageants and whatnot.
I did the best I could, color matching, etc. Making sure it looked good
Gumbin, a rather fishy sort (what with him being a Mon Calamari), came
along and plopped a Town Hall near our mall, making us part of his city.
We all got together for a town meeting, threatening to lynch the guy and
ride him out of town on a Bantha if he didn't do a good job as mayor.
He promised to do a good job, and we helped to build the
town up, moving ourselves in and generally contributing to society. I
still made a killing in the clothes industry. With good bio-enhanced attire
and beefed-up pistols, I rarely got killed off in the wilderness anymore.
I got myself a mount and rode around on itquite fun, actually. I
even went out hunting on Endor and Talus with Reea and the group.
Somewhere, in the middle of all this, my brother-in-law
had to cancel the account. I was okay with the decisionI knew it
was taking up way too much time, time that I would have enjoyed dedicating
to the comic, GDM, or even my badly-neglected writing. Oh, and then there
were the classes I could have been paying more attention to, as well as
the fact that I'd just applied to get into a program for a Master's Degree
MMORPG's will devour your life and soul if you give them
half a chance. Not like regular video games, which you can pause, save,
and walk away from if more pressing matters arise. MMORPGs keep calling
So, my character's fate was sealed: December 3rd would be
the scheduled date for termination of the account, the current month already
being paid for. That meant I had time to say goodbye to everyoneand
also time to get rid of the hundreds of items and hundreds of thousands
of credits I'd built up over the past months. Mine was probably the most
successful tailoring outfit I knew about, and I wouldn't have been at
all surprised if Equinis were the best Tailor on the Intrepid server,
despite being situated on such a little-known world as Talus.
I had several weeks to dispose of my character's assets.
Credits and clothes were easily given away. But there was just so much
I picked a successor: Inki Gumbin, the mayor of the town,
who decided to become a tailor in my place. Somehow, the status of Tailor
had become key to the success of the online society there. A Master Commando
could be a hero and blast the ears off a Giant Ancient Krayt Dragon, but
he'd never be a real legend until he looked the part. On the other hand,
a first-day newbie, dressed like Neo from the Matrix, has a personality
and a certain sense of style about him. It's a manufactured, overdone
coolness, but a coolness nonetheless. Also, you can have a Master Dancer
or Musician, but they're no good if they don't look the part. After all,
gotta have them dancers in Revealing Fleshwraps and Exotic Leotards! Wouldn't
be proper otherwise. A character's never complete without the outfit.
Just look at Mark Hamil. He had a decent level of coolness when swinging
with Leia in Episode IV, and he looked great when beating the heck out
of Darth Vader in Episode VI. On the other hand, if you get a look at
the interviews from 1980 when he's in Jeans and a T-Shirt
say "Epitome of Lameness"? Yes, we can.
So, Tailors and looking the part is vitally important in a fantasy environment.
Armorsmiths got their portion of the marketshare, but just because armor
reduced damagenot all of it looked that cool. ^_^
was the little bit of Horse Sense I delivered to the masses at my character's
going away party. I made a new appearance during the last couple of days
with a new outfit, calling myself Equinis the White! Coming at the turn
of the tide, at the end of the Age of Newbies and the beginning of the
Age of Jedi. Jedi had just started to appear in the game, y'see, and they
were hard characters to get!
made some last outfits for Reea-flystalker, our unofficial de-facto leader
in the mall venture. Tailoring was a tough, detailed job sometimes. Reea
was the best-looking Wookie in the game that I ever saw. If I could draw
a glamorous Wookie, that'd be Reea. Odd mental image, that.
I had become well-known enough on Talus and Corellia that we got a pretty
good turnout at the going-away party. Some people showed up earlier, and
others later. Reality slowly set in for everyone that it really was going
to be my last day in that universe.
I put up all the items I had for sale for 1 credit apiece,
and they all sold very quickly. Even the biggest freeloaders got totally
full and had to move on. What's more, I asked people who were present,
"Hey, anybody want bucketloads of Cash?"
noted sagely that nobody was ever going to say no to an offer like that.
He also seemed to think that I had good style, going away like I did.
I mentioned later that, if I had to go, I might as well go with style.
I seemed to be unique among most players, due to the fact that I could
actually chat in complete sentences, with punctuation, capital letters,
and without many misspelled words to speak of. In an environment where,
"how r u" and "i wnt sme csh" are epidemic, I suppose
it's refreshing to have someone who can actually communicate. In the land
of the grammatically clueless, the complete-sentence man has good style.
They had a Master Dancer and Master Musician come in for
me, I tipped everyone in huge amounts since I still had a fortune to give
away. I gave a 200k inheritance to my successor, Inki, and I bought all
the crafters in the mall spiffy Ultimate-Advanced R3 droids with all the
extras (crafting, droid repair, armor, medical, storage, etc) at 50k a
piece. Gave away all the gun powerups, the enhancements, the bio-enhanced
stuff, my harvesters
everything except just a few things like my
mount, a giant duck named Shadowfax, and my R3 crafting/repair/medical
droid named Tesha.
I had previously contemplated a duel with Gnibadab to finish
it off, since we'd had a minor spat several weeks before and I wanted
to challenge him to a duel to the death
but thinking it over, I
decided on a better, more fulfilling ending to my character's story: he
rode off into the sunset.
||We watched some fireworks
|We took some group pictures
||I packed up for the trip, and so did some others that wanted to
follow me to the bitter end
|And I rode
And Equinis arrived at his final destination.
He was a slow starter, but learned from his mistakes quickly, and, in
some ways, he made a difference. He spent a lot of time achieving what
he had, and when he saw the end coming near, he gave all he had to those
who might have had a use for it.
This is the story of Equinis Des'Potic, and in these games, there are
no stories worth speaking of, except for the ones that the characters
make for themselves. The plots the designers make are weak, a piece of
cheese for the rats to chase around in hopes of. The mazes are broken
and hardly ever work, except for the most determined of mice.
But this old clothes horse became a sort of legendfor
me, at least. And it was good to see him given such a good farewell and
retirement. For me, he had a story, and a life of sorts. He had struggles
and got back up after getting knocked down. He went on to create an empire
and do something marvellous for the people around him. He finished up
with a party, among friends. And he came to his final resting point, there
to remain until called for again.
Me, personally? I had enough time after quitting SWG to recover for Finals
and managed A's in most of my classes (one's still up in the airprobably
got an A in that one as well). I applied on time for the Master's program
and have yet to hear whether I get in, and then I'll need to decide whether
to go for that or pick up a lot of Computer Science classes instead.
One thing I do regret
Though I had the chance to meet
up with many people with a sense of fun and good hearts, as well as experience
the unique story of Equinis Des'Potic, I neglected several creative works.
I could have, perhaps, worked to make the webcomic a more complete story
with better, more inspiring writing, or perhaps learned to draw a bit
myself. I could have dedicated more time to supervising the Galactic Destroyer
Maker project, giving the programmers more support or perhaps programming
a bit of it myself during the semeter. Maybe I could have even finished
up one of those stories I've been trying to get written for the past year
So many possibilities, so much gained and so much lost. That seems to
be the way of time. As it stands, I can regret the loss of time, or I
can take courage in what I have gained: a lesson about generosity and
of taking action. Maybe a caution about the future that I ought not to
enter into such huge time commitments for things when I want to accomplish
something totally different.
Hmm. Yes, that's what I think I'll take from this experience; that whatever
I do, I can learn from it. I learn from mistakes, it's true, and I'm able
to spin stories from them afterward. However, things actually progress
when I make the right decision. Ammon, Esa, Danny
Larry, Joe, Jason
Consider this my New Year's Resolution: to spend more time making things
rather than just playing them. ^_^;;
Happy New Year, everyone!