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Horse Will Be With You
Last August, I really did have no idea what I was getting into when I
started playing Star Wars Galaxies. Apart from boiling away a bit more
time than I really had to spend, it was still an unforgettable experience.
I made an unusual character, he picked an unusual gun-slinging, hem-sewing
path, and eventually became a legend among a small group in a backwater
planet in the game. I made some friends, established a minor empire, and
tore it all down at the end. What could have been more fun than that?
Well, yes, obviously it could have been a lot more fun to
write more NETTG or work more on the other storylines that I've had around
or perhaps even learn to program GDM a bit better; but the RPG was still
pretty fun, and helped obscure in my mind just how traumatic last semester
really was, school-wise. Other than contemplating "might have beens",
I actually got a pretty happy ending: a 4.0/4.0 for the semester with
15 credits, Christmas soon afterwards, and a legend born. I soon afterwards
took over the lead programming position for GDM, and while I didn't get
very far without my brother's help, it was a start. Not too shabby, really.
But, like I mentioned in a previous article, MMORPGs have
this strange pull that keeps calling you back, and like many a good legend,
this one deserved a sequel. There was this free trial period where all
the cancelled accounts got reactivated for a few weeks
From the second I logged on, I was bombarded by tons of
messages from people that I'd known before. I couldn't exactly hide my
return on this game, especially when so many people had me on their friend
lists. It took me a few minutes to reorient myself to what was going on,
and I replied to the many "tells" as fast as I could. Then I
ran off to where a collection of friends were.
had enough resources to build myself one of the spiffy new speeder bikes
that had come out with one of the patches, and I did
but I couldn't
call it, since I had chosen to "die" out in the middle of the
wilderness. What's more, I didn't have the presence of mind to construct
a camp, which would have allowed me to call it and make my journey ohhhhh-so-much
quicker. So I ran the whole way, shouting out to the world and heralding
The mall was right where I left it. I ran in and announced
Reea-flystalker, now the mayor of town, just about fell out of her seat
when I came back. I took a few minutes to look around and talk with them.
Reea hadn't followed me to my quasi-final resting place, and here she
explained to me why: it was a "wake" of sorts. Waiting up for
the dead, just in case the dead decided to return.
It couldn't have gone over better than if I'd somehow scheduled my return
during a seance. They were incredibly happy to see me. It was hugs and
giggles all around the place. The only real downpoint of it was that some
asked if I was back to stay. I made it clear that I was only going to
be back for a little whileabout a week, until the free trial period
gave out. Perhaps I wouldn't stay very long at all. After all, I had school
and the comic to think about. The game held no obligations for me other
than a quick visit with friends. Plus, I'd neglected my writing plenty
long enough what with all the other stuff I'd been working on
seemed to have been gone for the time being. My writing wasn't going anywhere,
and my artist was out of commission, incommunicado, and incognito for
the time being. I'd just barely asked someone to be my backup plan for
an artist, should the worst be proved true
I knew in the game asked me to attend a weddingthe wedding of Youngie
Makashi and Lyka Olin. I remembered Youngie from when he was a rank amateur:
a novice medic whom I helped along with some bioenhanced medical clothes
here and there. He'd started a full-on business with another acquaintance,
Harrier Arkantos, whom I'd encountered when he was a newbie as well.
While I considered sticking around for a bit, Reea and another
known as Derado showed me the sights around town. There was still the
town hall, where Inki Gumbin had been made mayor, and he'd been threatened
to be lynched and ridden out of town on a bantha if he didn't do a good
Well, as it turned out
he didn't do a good job. My
tailoring successor had disappeared the same night I left, and hadn't
been seen or heard from since. His house disappeared, destroying everything
I'd left for him, and
it was kind of over for him.
Too bad, really. But I guess there really was something fishy about him
after all. I should have trusted my instincts and had some fried Mon Calamari
But yes, they showed me the town hall, which had been decorated for the
upcoming occasion. It was actually quite nice. The developers had allowed
architects to construct decorative features, which greatly livened up
the setting. Finally, the developers got something right. Sure took 'em
long enough. ^_^;
also showed me the office of Reea-flystalker, the mayor of the town. From
what I discussed with various people in town, there were rumors that had
I stuck around in December and picked up the new Politician class, I probably
would have been elected mayor in Inki's place
if for no other reason
than, unlike some other players, I could type in complete sentences. In
the land of the 1337 speakers, the amateur fanfic writer is king. Reea,
as our informal leader (now formal), would have been the next logical
choice, and so she was.
also introduced me to the new mascot of the town of Lashan: a giant Kimoglia.
Say what you will about what happened to the last mayor, but his remains
were never found. It makes one wonder, with that creature wandering around.
Next up, they had a very nice surprise for me. Youngie Makashi had named
his medical facility in my honor. He had mentioned something about doing
that when I left, but I didn't know he'd actually carry it out. What's
more, inside he had some relics of what I'd given him in the past.
We all had a nice, long pleasant talk about it all. About
the past, about the present, and about plans for the future. Seeing all
these things made me think about what I wanted to accomplish here before
I departed once again, perhaps this time indefinitely. I agreed to come
to Youngie's wedding and make some stuff for it as well. I requested resources
and a factory to start crafting stuff. There wasn't enough time to make
any more bioenhanced materials, but that's not always what it's about.
Sometimes, it's about giving people the right look so that
they can play the game how they want to.
A far cry from the past, Youngie was now a Master Combat
Medic, and Harrier was pretty advanced as well. At the medical center,
I also met the bride, Lyka. She was a Commando; a very adventurous sort
They wanted me to make the rings they'd use for the ceremony
later in the week
so that was another reason to make preparations
and stick around.
The deal was sealed, Derado, Reea, and others gave me the
stuff I needed to work with, and I revved up the factory, getting to work
on it all.
As a side note, for Christmas, the developers had given
everybody a Jedi Holocron or two that, when used, would give a clue on
what a character would need to do in order to unlock the force sensitive
character slot and allow that player to become a Jedi. Let it be said
that the Jedi system was totally messed up. The requirements were different
for each player, but using the Holocron would spout off a random requirementa
class that had to be mastered before the progress on the way to Jedi would
be complete. My brother-in-law used his, out of curiosity, and got Master
which had absolutely nothing to do with the style
of gameplay he really wanted to pursue. Since when did being able to perform
cosmetic surgery and do great hairstyling have anything to do with Jedi
Knighthood? They might as well have just told us that we were too old
to begin the trainingwith the first stage of Jedi training being
potty training. Now how messed up is that?
I mulled it over and without looking back, I handed over my holocron
to Derado, who was working toward becoming a Jedi. I didn't plan on sticking
around for long, and he'd certainly have a use for the object.
With my factory going and plans all completed, I mounted
up on my speederbike and started tearing up the countryside with it. This
beat running around, hands down. A horse riding a Hog
have thought it? No worse than riding a duck, I suppose.
had the chance to spook a few people who were shocked that I was back,
especially after I had gone to the trouble of leaving with style and making
such a big ceremony out of walking into a giant pyre last time I left.
Ah, the joys of coming back from the dead!
As the week wore on, I met up with more and more people. My fame had
spread only a little ways, and that was fine. People have games to play,
y'see, and can't be troubled by a little Talusian legend, especially a
short, equine Bothan one. I even got some tailoring done for someone I'd
helped a long way back: Valornian, who'd gone on and learned a few more
things. He confirmed something that I'd suspected: character design and
color matching seemed to be a lost art among many MMORPG players. A good
tailor was hard to find. And without a good tailor, it's difficult to
be a proper hero. Maybe you could get by with armor, but that's no look
for a dashing Han Solo type!
also met up with some other people. Taiao, for example, was a wookie that
needed a new look. I gave one to him.
also had the chance to chat a bit more with my wookie friend, Reea-flystalker.
She'd started to give up on Architecture and moved on to the Chef class,
which was soon due for an overhaul and would actually become useful after
a future patch. She was also concerned about some upcoming work she had
in February. She knew as well as I did about the time risks of some MMORPGs.
She was closing the mall we'd founded so long ago, and trimming back her
other responsibilities to make time for
real life. Those
of us in the fanfiction "industry" know the perils and demands
of real life. Experience as much escapism as you please
life will eventually have to be faced, and if it's not
it will pass
us all by and leave nothing in its wake.
also had the chance to sit and chat with Derado, who was busily grinding
away at his next Jedi requirement. He was still glad I handed him my holocron.
It made things easier deciding which class to master next.
Even if it was going to be Dancer, Image Designer, or Part-Time
Garbage Collector, it was good to know for sure that it had to be pursued.
also visited my house, which Reea and Gnibadab had maintained for such
a long time. Everything was how I had left it. It was all as threadbare
and utilitarian as befitted a tailor who never, ever really visited home.
friend from long ago visited as well. Her name was Sostrata, and she was
a very busy one, gathering badges from all over the galaxy and mastering
untold professions. She also had ambitions as a tailor
on that later.
was a tough week getting everything set up, and for my master plan to
be fulfilled. I had to take a breather every now and again.
I scoped out some more sights, and pretty soon the time
for the wedding and subsequent party had come. Lyka had only one request
for her wedding present: I had this set of bioenhanced clothes I'd left
as an artifact in the old mall. It was the blue one I used to wear around
all the time (see the previous Extra). She wanted a set that looked exactly
like it, so I sat down in front of it and matched the colors as precisely
as my eyes could discern.
Some of the women I designed clothes for often had very
specific things in mind for the colors they wanted. They seemed surprised
that I didn't know the difference between "sky blue", "egg
blue", "royal blue", or "emerald". When they
say "egg blue", the first question that pops into my head is,
"What kind of bird are we talking about?!" The eggs I know are
white, so I wondered if that could be some sort of ultra-polite way of
asking for white clothes. Then, when they noticed my confusion, they tended
to say such things as, "Oh, that's right. You're a MAN."
Somehow, my brain just isn't wired for this level of specificity. I tended
to navigate the spectrum by shadings of "brighter" or "darker".
You could have told me an electromagnetic wavelength number in nanometers
and I could probably match it better from memory than telling me to do
it in "egg blue". And if a color needed to be matched, I had
to see the article in question and stare at it
but I made sure I
got it right.
Lyka got her outfit, and seemed to like it a great deal. Somebody had
already done her wedding dress, so I didn't need to worry about that particular
detail. But I did make rings for her and Youngie. Youngie said it was
so that he could have a piece of me with him, always.
The wedding went off well with Harrier as the ministerdisappearing
momentarily as his connection falteredbut after that, it was smooth
met back up with Nybacca, one who had stayed in contact with me even after
I'd left, and told me how things were going. It was great to see him again,
and we talked about old times. Funny how things like a game can make one
The party after the wedding went off great. Say what you
will about other events, but Reea and the others sure knew how to throw
a proper party. I met up with some more old friends and talked to a couple
other Master Tailors about the benefits of bioenhanced and a few other
Sostrata had just barely taken up Tailor as a class. I'd
been told the difficulties of finding a good tailor. Most of them were
typically women, and for some reason female tailors had a much tougher
time giving other girls what they wanted in attire. I believe that was
one of the big reasons Sostrata took up tailoring: to do it thoughtfully
and right. She asked for a factory. I gave her the one that I'd been given
for the week, and my work in the game was almost finished
It was still not over, though. I had thought to slip away
quietly into the night, as any ghost worth his own ectoplasm should
but there were some more details to take care of. My old house was kind
of in the way of what would make a perfect road for the city. I needed
to take it down or move it or something. Ahh, city planning
the historical district to make room for the freeway! I agreed, but I'd
need help. My house had grown quite full in the past couple of days, you
When Reea saw what I was putting together, she changed her
mind about me moving my house. I had put together a sort of Shrine to
Tailoring, chock full of examples of outfits that were availablea
valuable resource for prospective heroes and aspiring tailors alike. How
can you ask for something if you don't know what it will look like on
you? Reea loved it, and wanted to keep it all for display and for posterity's
sake. This was, it seemed, my great work for the group I'd grown to love
months ago. Who knows how long it'll last
? But that's my gesture,
and I'm sticking with it. ^_^
grew short, and the moment came to leave.
But before I left, it was there in my old house that I talked
to Reea about what I'd been doing while not playing Star Wars Galaxies.
I was trying to get a comic pieced together, I was trying to learn how
to program right for a game based on that comic. I was trying to muster
up some creative capacity and finish all my long-untouched works of writing.
I was finishing up a Bachelor's degree and applying for a Masters degree!
There were all these things and more that I had to worry about, and wanted
to worry about.
Reea thought my words over. She noted that she really didn't have anything
that she'd rather be doing. All the creative energies she poured into
designing the look for the city and for interior decorating in the game
really didn't have any alternative. She didn't tell me about any long-unfinished
magnum opus that she'd neglected by playing video games, and she didn't
know what else she'd be doing to pass the time. I don't know
she didn't have very many friends outside the game, either. Some responsibilities,
yes, but nothing that would keep her from playing a game now and again.
And that gave me pause to think. Perhaps, for some people,
an outlet for extra timeperhaps stressful timeis a good thing
for MMORPGs. The game, even as a glorified chat room with graphics and
level-ups, helped her to meet people and become part of a community. Maybe
this allowed her to meet people and friends that she would never have
For some, these kinds of games really are a horizon-broadening
Sometimes, I wonder what I might have done had I never sought
out the FFML and came up with "Nuke 'Em 'Till They Glow!!" Would
I have met Jason Hanks and had such a great time bouncing story ideas
back and forth?
Certainly not. Would I have encountered Jussi Nikander,
who made me realize the importance of proper grammar, syntax, tenses,
and other critical story components? Definitely not. I'd never have met
him, since he's way off in Finland. Would I have had any concept of what
it's like to have fans of what I'd written and have gained the confidence
which comes with that? I don't know.
Would I be working now with such great people as Esa, Joe, and Larry
if I'd never pursued some crazy online community after finding out about
fan fiction? I doubt it. How far would I have written without the help
I got with the group I found? Probably not nearly as far. I'd likely have
had made a secret hobby of it and written trite pieces that never could
have gotten published
. I still may never write something that's worth
publishing professionally, but I'm a lot closer than I would have been
without all that practice.
Would Reea have known what it's like to be a community leader
and manage the concerns of a diverse online group had she not logged onto
Star Wars Galaxies and become an Architect, and later a Politician? Who
? I don't know where she works, or many details of her life.
All I know is a very pretty wookie who forms very deep commitments and
feelings about getting things done, and who has a decent fashion sense.
I feel I've benefitted by meeting her and others on the game, and I can
imagine that their lives have been made just that much brighter for having
met some others as well.
For many, the game was no more a waste of time than a season-long
soccer tournament would be considered a waste of time. I consider a lot
of sports a waste of time, but a lot of people idolize sports and call
playing video games a waste of time. Which of us is right? The answer
is both, and neither: it depends. If you can find a fulfilling experience
out of something, I'd find it difficult to call it a waste of time.
Right, then! Back to work with me. ^_^;
By the way, I never did get a chance to try out that busty Twi'Lek entertainer
I mentioned in the previous article, did I? Ah, well. Maybe next time.