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For me, there is nothing not awesome about the Christmas time of year. Living in Texas, despite having near zero chance of snow, this time of year still brings something magical to my home and my family. This list changes for me from year to year, but I always enjoy making it! I'll get right to the list, please feel free to reply with your favorites!
1. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
1964 classic clay-animation version.
2. The Snowman
1982 - Very touching story despite having no words.
3. The Muppet Christmas Carol
1992 - Always a top 5 favorite of mine.
4. The Polar Express - 2004
5. Elf - 2003
6. A Christmas Stopry - 1983
7. A Charlie Brown Christmas - 1965
8. It's a Wonderful Life - 1946
9. The Nightmare before Christmas - 1993
10. Rise of the Guardians - 2012
Welcome to another page in the life journey of a madman. What follows is the rambling thoughts of a single person and not a reflection upon any particular group or organisation. It is merely an attempt to put into words something that is very hard to articulate. I hope it does not bore you to tears!
Being an Officer
What is it like to be an Officer of a Guild?
This is a question I have been asked many times and usually, to my great shame, I cannot really give an honest and complete answer.
That is not to say that I do not want to answer, but often times, if I personally am being completely, utterly honest with myself as well as that person asking... I just am unable to answer properly.
Being an Officer for a Guild, no matter how large or small, is a source of honour and shame. It is an honour because the well being of that Guild is being invested in you, in your actions and deeds, in what you say and do. It is a great responsibility that many who become part of the Leadership find to be a weight that ever so slowly crushes them. All good intents asides, it "IS" a lot of work, most of which is never seen, never talked about but always appreciated by those others who bear the same title.
To be an Officer, one must be willing to put aside your personal wants and desires. To be willing to step into the middle of an argument and try, TRY to find a common ground and with a little luck, an agreement that all parties, can accept. They may not like it for they have to surrender some of their beliefs in what is right and correct, but, for the common good they can work with what is reached. Often times, opinions and emotions are running high and it near impossible to reach that agreement. In those instances, a decision may be needed quickly and it is YOU as the Officer that has to make it. Right or wrong, it matters but what is more important is moving on with the least harm to the Guild as a whole. This is when, as an Officer, you learn perhaps some of the hardest lessons of leadership, of what it is to be an Officer. To make that decision, and push on. Knowing that one or some or even many disagree. Maybe you made the wrong decision, because there was insufficient time or knowledge at hand, but it is the decision you make. Afterwards, you have must be willing to stand there, alone and exposed to ire and emotions of those that do not agree. It is a lonely place.
A bad decision can always be revisited, the question is though, how much damage does it do in the mean time? This is an impossible question, it is akin to asking 'how long is a piece of string?' Yet, in hindsight, when emotions have cooled, you can bring together all those who disagree and seek a better answer. Heck, even a good decision can be, maybe should, be examined later to see if it is still a good decision. A popular decision does not make it right!
Then we have the duties of an Officer. These can be varied and many. They can overlap and have blurred boundaries but they are there all the same. Some Officers have specific duties, be it say, the in-game Banker, the Raiding Boss to whom all Raid Leaders follow, the Recruitment Officer which is quite possibly the most important position in any Guild beside that of even the Guild Master/Mistress. In larger Guilds, Guilds that encompass multiple games and host multiple Guilds all under the same name, you have Officers responsible for Public Relations, the Web Master/Mistress, Inter-Guild Liaisons, Education Officers, Historians, Media Officers, Art and Design Officers, Correspondents and many, many other positions. Yes, for a large Guild, it does and can be more akin to running a company or corporation! But let us not forget our root stock, those General Duty Officers, for these are our first line of Leadership, these are the ones whom the members, guests and visitors are most likely to meet and talk too. These are potentially, some of the most critical everyday Officers in the Guild for they are the ones that are the public face, the ones on whom we all rely to give that all important 'first impression'.
Does this sound like a lot of work? It is, it truly is, but you have to be willing to put in the time and effort to make it all work. You will be part of decision making, putting forth your input and opinions only to see something other than what you want be the direction chosen but then, at that point you also have to be willing to put aside your personal opinion and work with that decision. You have to be willing to implement that which you may disagree with and do so with YOU supporting it even if you disagree. This is hard and difficult but this is a fundamental part of being a true Officer. To work a full day, come home hoping to relax, spend some time in my chosen game only to be confronted by a problem, an issue or a blow-up between members on the forums or the fall out from such in-game and then taking that relaxation time and spend it solving that problem.
So why do you do it?
This is a question I ask myself, maybe seven times a week! I am not kidding.
All the above has probably put you off, or maybe made you rethink the desire to be an Officer?
DON'T LET IT!
Being an Officer can be a rewarding experience, it lets you into a world of responsibility, true but at the same time you are a part, maybe a crucial part of building something that, with care and attention, grows to become more than what you might ever expect. Maybe it becomes more than a single Guild, a multiple game Guild or even a Community!
A Community! Think of it, that small guild of friends grows, changes, often times unwillingly but it does so all the same. You see trouble and strife, but persevere, you battle adversity, time, relationships and numerous other issues that strive to crush that Community and win through. Sure, you will see times of retraction, when membership falls, when there are long periods of drought where no worthy games are out there but these are offset by the good times, dare I call it, the glory days, when there is plenty to play, plenty to choose from, plenty to do! Through it all is that Guild which you as an Officer help run, help to grow and help to maintain.
It can be and often is a rewarding experience in ways that are difficult to put into words.
You will be part of those moments when sheer determination wins through and struggle that has threatened to tear all asunder is smashed down and broken, that seemingly unsurmountable problem solved. It leaves you stronger, better prepared for the next time, "IF" it there should ever be a next time. And perhaps, most surprising of all, you learn, you gain experiences that stay with you and blend into life. After all, being an Officer of a Community with say... thirteen thousand members might, just might give you a foundation to to build from at work. Maybe you will discover a talent for Media, Media Relations! Or Public Relations, Management, problem solving or any other number of things!
It is very easy to point out the down side, the pitfalls of being an Officer, while the upside is harder to articulate, to put into words, but it is a rewarding experience if you can be adjust when needed, adapt as required and work towards a goal.
The greatest part of being an Officer I think, is the chance to be a part of something greater than myself, of watching and helping it continue, to see it grow and become stronger and greater than it was before. To be a part of something more than my drab and dreary life.
A word of warning
I mentioned the word Goal just now, but a single goal is a bad idea for if that is all you have then where will you go, what will you do when you reach it? Always, always have multiple goals in mind, but focus on them one after another. For it is the act of reaching that long sought after goal and finding yourself with nothing to shoot for afterwards that has been the downfall of many who were seen as successful. Always have something to strive for, for that is when we reveal our true selves but be mindful of those around you. It may seem like you are alone, and often times you have to act alone but you ARE a PART of a Guild. There are always others you can turn to for help or advice or even a shoulder to cry on when it all seems impossible to continue. Be prepared to provide that shoulder to those that come to you as you ask other to supply a shoulder for you to rest upon!
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You know those places no one wants to visit? Let alone live there, mind you. Your friends and family, when they hear you say, "Come down for the weekend," they all start making excuses why they simply can't make it. That's what I mean, a place like that.
The military introduced me to many of those places, actually. Gaming became the best escape - the chance to gather with others stuck in the same dire mess of a situation and usually wearing the same uniform, too. Something to do together while the kids ran around in the yard outside or haggled over which toys to play with, and we adults all rolled dice in mad rushes across the table-top and cheered on every troll and goblin and giant spider that we made dead.
And hey! Someone tell me why there is always a giant spider! Ick!
But suddenly and eventually we would get orders again and stand to lose the precious people who made our days and weeks seem so much more fantastical and adventurous than we would have thought going along. Society seems to appreciate how tough it is on the Army brats. I can definitely swear it's pretty rough on the Army grown-ups, too.
So when one of my bestest buddies ever came up to me and handed me this boxy, little hard-drive one day, I was hard-pressed not to burst into tears. He one said, "Here, take this. When you get there, you call me up and tell me how much you loved this game. That way, we're still playing together." I think of him every time I fire up Origins all these years later, too.
So confession time, here.
When I first ventured into the world of Dragon Age: Origins, I didn't like it. No, no ... I know it sounds purely strange to hear me say that, considering the number of times someone's called me a "Bioware fanboy" these past few years. Like I take them seriously, even. Sheesh!
But truly. My initial steps into Thedas left me feeling just ... lost. I couldn't understand half what was going on, and I felt so much confused. I spent most of the time bugging my nearby husband with questions: "What's the Fade? Why does this guy glow? How did I even get into this blasted dream sequence, by touching some water? And what's with the fellow pretending to be a rat?" My husband became frustrated with me along the same time I became frustrated with the game and set my rig off to the side.
So he gruffly told me, "Why not try playing a different character? You might like playing a warrior better than a mage." Mind you, there are some words a wife never says aloud. "He was right" in that order are three of them. I figure I can type them into this little blurb here and you will all keep my secret safe, though. Thank you.
That's how I ended up first creating my first-ever Cousland.
That's when Thedas came alive, for me.
Seriously, though. I'll never be a "fanboy"! Stop calling me that! I'm a geeky nerd of a woman who spends her time exploring fantasy worlds where the difference between a mage, a warrior, and a rogue are my paramount concerns, dangit.
In Origins, the player character is "The Warden" - a raw, new Grey Warden recruit who's suddenly tasked with ... well, with saving the world, basically. There is a Blight impending, anyway. The Blight is a veritable horde of evil, vicious, and flesh-consuming monsters that burst out from underground like the fastest-moving Zombies you've ever seen. Hey, the Walking Dead has nothing like these dudes! And all of them are determined to sweep across the countryside killing every man, woman, and child they come across.
Oh, and there's magic, elves and dwarves, and even a couple dragons to make the story even more fantastical, too. Yes, it's definitely my kind of story. With a few truly impressive differences to make it all the more interesting.
My very first playthrough of Origins became my personal "canon" take on the story, interestingly enough. That particular Warden of mine was everything I might have wanted a hero to be, anyway. Heck, not only did she steal my own heart, she stormed right across the camp to steal the heart of the king-to-be, too. He gave her a rose and they stormed the castle together.
Yea, that's me ... sappily pleased.
And oh, by the way.
My husband still hates Alistair with a passion.
I did manage to complete several more playthroughs of the game, though. All right, all right! More than several, even! But I was determined to explore the story from different perspectives and varied angles.
The most difficult playthrough for me to complete involved my Dalish elf. My own Mahariel was the most arrogant piece-of-work of a character I ever created for any playthrough of the game. She was caustic, rude, and outright bigoted against anyone who wasn't Dalish.
I didn't like her, so it's not a surprise she never successfully romanced one of the companion characters. She was too busy mourning for her lost friend and lover, and Tamlen's tragic fate consumed her in bitterness. In the end, I decided to sacrifice her atop Fort Drakon. Rest in peace, Mahariel.
I completed a couple of mage playthroughs, as well. Playing as a mage in Dragon Age: Origins is actually a bit of a task, mind you. I generally advise my friends exploring Origins for the first time to avoid the mage class when they initially play the game. The Fade can be daunting, first off. And then the combat in Origins tends to be clunky and rough. For a mage, it's a lot of standing off to the side and singing, "Magic missile, magic missile" over and over again.
Yea, yea, yea. I know ... Wrong game.
So yea, back to Origins.
My mage is invariably and always a Surana. That is, they're elves. I've tried making human mages, but they never seemed to feel correct to me and I always failed to progress past the prologue with them. So I stuck to the notion my mage in Origins is a pretty and quietly skilled elf girl and I adore her. I try not to think of her true fate, given that my "canon" take on the story has a Cousland warden rather than a Surana. Rest in peace, Surana.
Gradually, though, my own Warden took shape. The more I played, the more clear my picture of the character turned. Like I knew her ... like we were the best of friends, even.
I knew the Warden was utterly capable. She was sharply smart, like a whip. Educated and knowledgeable. She was diplomatic, too. But that doesn't mean she was any sort of goody two-shoes, either.
Diplomacy, as I see it, is a game of caution, rather. It's seeing the lies and manipulations clearly enough to navigate one's way through the messy mire that politics can be, really. And even using those same tactics to play right along. So my Warden was a pragmatist. She refused to be misused and remained determined to control her own fate.
And as a member of a noble, aristocratic family - a family second only to the King's, even - my Warden was keenly aware of her own place in the world and the obligations it demanded. Like any other Cousland, she was defined more than anything by the most incredible loyalty. To her family, to those she cared for, and to the people who counted on her. For her, nobility was no sort of entitlement. It was a responsibility, in fact. People depended on her and she refused to fail them.
Eventually, I knew so much who the Warden was, that I simply couldn't fathom seeing her any other way. Every playthrough started feeling so much the same. I was glad the second and third installments of Dragon Age introduced new heroes, even. The story needed to be fleshed out from all those other varied angles, too.
And then my husband tossed a challenge at me.
He said, "What if your Warden wasn't a woman? What then?"
Okay, so yea. It wasn't until he pointed it out, that I realized I had never played Origins as a male character. Which isn't to say I only ever play as a female in any game I play, either. I once had a DM try to poke at my sensibilities during a particular run of Dungeons and Dragons, by tossing a cursed ring at me that changed my gender. He stuttered when I shrugged and took to happily playing a character-suddenly-turned-guy, then.
But my Origins characters have always been female. No real reason for it. It only felt correct, to me. Which might be why my husband was adamant, that challenging my "canon" so much as that was beyond me. I think he was really bashing on my ever-lasting adoration of the Theirin bastard-king, actually. It didn't keep me from thinking on the story and what shape it would take if I only made such a simple and complete twist. As turning my gal Warden into a guy Warden.
... And hey! None of you pay attention to those plot wheels slowly gaining speed inside my head, either!
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Over the course of four years I have had the pleasure of being a part of this family. It brings me sense of peace to serve by my comrades, I serve with a sense of responsibility and honour to this covenant. I wish to do more to help our covenant and should any of my leaders ask of me anything I shall do it without hesitation.
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Mari stirred next to the warmth of a fire burning near her. It was morning. She had cried herself to sleep. Beside the fire, on a rock, was a bowl full of water. She cupped it and examined it closely. She smelled it. ‘Fruit?’ She drank a sip then almost involuntarily drained the rest of the liquid from the bowl. She breathed a small sigh. ‘So sweet.’
The green canopy had been a wonderful covering from the morning shower that had set the leaves of the forest a-glitter. She had slept through that. ’Darn,’ she thought, ‘I miss wandering in the rain’. She thought of Tian and how they would get soaked together in it wandering in the forests of Dromund Kaas after her initiation had concluded.-They sat alone under a tree near some fern bushes watching the water on the large leaves.“Do you see this raindrop?” Tian had looked into her eyes. “It has fallen from the sky and landed here on this leaf, but it did not do so of its own accord. It was made to do so and so it must. It doesn’t choose where to roll or what drops to join in its path, it is guided by consequence. It absorbs and is absorbed.”She had leaned into his warmth and he wrapped his arms around her and continued, but she didn’t hear much of what he said. She listened to his steady heart beat… felt the steady, peaceful rhythm. She wanted to stay here. Not return to the dread that awaited her at the Citadel. Her master surely was suspicious her dallying with this light-leaning sith.“Mari-love.” Tian whispered. “Seek balance… Love mercy… Exercise justice… Walk with the Force in humbleness… Don’t lose yourself in emotion, draw strength from it.”-
The sun broke through a clearing in the canopy blinding her for a moment and interrupting her reminisce. She looked around her again, feeling something she could not place. ‘A presence? No.'
She moved soundlessly out from the copse which had sheltered her during the night, reaching out with her senses and touched something conflicted. It withdrew immediately. Then she felt a light press on her thoughts.
“You’re up.” said the thought… distinctly male… incredibly peaceful. She started at the intrusion. “I hope you enjoyed the refreshment. If you’d like, come south to the creek. We can talk there.”
‘Nothing pressing to do’ thought Miri as she looked again at the verdant landscape encompassing her. Quickly, she readied herself and set off.
“YOU WHAT?!” echoed the gravelly voice of Darth Granus. She shoved her way across her vast office space to look her assassin in the eye, nose to nose.
The assassin trembled as slowly his neck began to rise, held by another force. “We… we were… attacked my Lord. A… human, but … not… hum – “ His explanation was cut short as his vocal cords were being pressed.
Then his mouth contorted into a soundless, raging scream and his eyes shut vice-tight. His brow furrowed unnaturally as he writhed in mid-air.
“I WILL have my answer!” screamed Granus. Her eyes narrowed and she leered at him. Light distorted in front of them as if an inferno blazed from within them. Her face grew gaunt, but she pressed in, launching a scathing mental assault.
She had no mercy on her servant assassin, slashing and ripping at every part of his mind until at last she arrived at the scene in the forest and saw what transpired.
The assassin fell limp to the floor, a vacant expression on his face. Drool pooled from his lips where he lay.
Kourou winced. His eyes welled. He felt the assassin’s sanity leave him and knew all that remained was a fleshly shell where once had been a soul. Alive, but vacant.
'Nothing has changed.’ He thought, shaking his head almost imperceptibly.
Mari approached from behind him, clearing her throat as she approached.
“I’m sorry, Mari, if I mis-read your intentions but I thought helping you escape was the best choice… given the alternative.”
“You felt it too…” she said. She had been crying.
“I hate her.”
“Hate is a strong word…”
“I do! You have NO idea what I’ve been through!” Mari’s mind raced through a lifetime of memories and experiences with her old master, Darth Granus.
“You’re right, I have not been through what you have experienced.” Kourou conceded. “Can we at least agree that I have had experiences also?”
Mari watched him for a moment and looked up at the mid-day sky. A breeze caught her and lifted her silky hair, caressing her face. Every time she felt that kind of a breeze she was reminded of how Tian would cradle her face in his palms and press his forehead on hers before kissing her gently.
“Mari… what does she fear in you that she would hunt you?” Kourou asked warily.
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For anyone who has actually bothered to read these (and this) blog post(s,) congrats, I didn't think anyone ever would. No comments, so it wasn't anything special, but oh well, everything I do is shite anyway.
Case in point; the computer I am using, and my inability to replace it. I've been trying my damndest to scrounge the money for a new one before this one gives up the ghost; I tried, and failed, as this comp will now only start in safe mode. And joy, I'm still short for enough to get a replacement. So yeah, this comp will fail anytime now, I can't get a new one, so I'm not going to be around. Not that anyone cares of course, but I thought I might as well inform you guys.
Add to that the enormous personal and family related problems I am having, and well.... now the title makes sense, doesn't it? Story of my life, really; struggle and struggle and Murphy shows up and things get worse. Oh well.
Maybe "things will get better" as people keep telling me.... I don't think they will, but who knows? Maybe my boss will advance me some wages.... Which isn't likely. Who knows, maybe someone I know will help out, though I doubt it...
On that note, I'm going to try to sell off the ships I bought for Star Citizen..... Perhaps one of the people here will buy a LTI Redeemer......
With that, I'm signing off, possibly for the foreseeable future, perhaps forever if my situation keeps getting worse...
Been fun. I doubt anyone here cares, But I'd like to think you guys do.
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That is how long it took me to become of the Legendary Hero of the Daggerfall Covenant. To stop Molag Bal and save all of Nirn. To collect every single skyshard available to the Daggerfall Covenant.
Every public dungeon. Group Dungeon. Solo Dungeon. Quest. World Boss. All those blasted Dark Anchors and Mage Guild books.
Did I mention I was the Emperor of Cyrodiil for a bit?
And now I get to do it all again in the Veteran Rank content. Seems like they are starting me out in Auridon this time.
Smells like cat.
You know what? I will do it all again. Why you might ask? Simply because Cadwell asked me to.
Could you deny a face like that?
I won't lie to you... NPC after NPC, Quest after Quest, and Skyshard after Skyshard... it could drag on you. How many crazy, inept, or even helpless people exist on Nirn anyways? I had to torch a village of werewolves to help two lovers stay together because one had contracted lycanthropy. Decades of seclusion and safety destroyed by my hand. Or how about the time I got involved in a love triangle between a man, a woman, and her orc lover? I royally messed that one up, but I'm sure the young man will straighten things out when he returns from the military. Even the King of Daggerfall was ready to throw it all away until I stepped in to save him from his own realm of self-destruction.
But I think that is what makes this game... the mountains of diverse content with NPCs that feel real and meaningful in their tiny little bubbles. It was a bit strange that the Wyrd Sisters couldn't help the burning village less two minutes away from them... but those ladies still managed to convince me their plight was more important than the screaming villagers. Don't worry, I did eventually rescue the villagers and become their savior. They too continue to thank me for my efforts just like everyone else in the Daggerfall Covenant.
And I'm only a third of the way through the existing content. The Aldmeri Dominion and Ebonheart Pact each of their own royalty, monsters, and screaming villagers too. All separate storylines and experience.
As far as PvE goes... this is far more content at the release of an MMORPG than I have ever seen.
The vast majority of it is solo content. It has really kept close to the Elder Scrolls with that.
That isn't to say you won't find and help other players... In over 90% of the quests in this game I always found another player or three working towards the same goals, and fighting the same monsters. We helped each other, delved through the dungeons, and completed our objectives faster than we could have done solo. The game made it VERY easy to work with people you meet during your travels and does appear to reward you for working together.
But not with your closest friends and allies. Between the quest phasing and the likelihood of being separated because the game won't stop you from going anywhere in a zone you wish... it was tough trying to level as a group with people you are used to playing with. I know a great number of people who left the game because of this.
I'm not sure if this says something negative about the game, or the types of players that now occupy MMORPGs. I'm younger than many of the players who were in Everquest at launch, or participated in AOL's Neverwinter Nights... but having jumped into Ultima Online solo I don't have a problem adjusting to this. If I wanted to play with people, I simply found people to play with who were in the same area, or doing the same quests. Half the time I played with other people I backtracked to help some random person with a portion of a quest I had already completed.
It seems like a lot of people were just frustrated they couldn't play with their select group of friends all the time or very easily. Understandable frustration, and I expect Zenimax will work on their phasing issues over time. After a few patches I did notice it became easier to help others with stuff I had already completed, but it still wasn't perfect. Still... I could find a way to bring the Multiplayer to the MMORPG without too much difficulty.
In all honesty it was the PvP in Cyrodiil that taught me to work with whoever was around me on the current objective.
As nice as it is to have you and your group together, when the battles start to get 30v30v30 on a few Keeps you start to keep less track of who is around you. Your mission becomes simple: locate the groups that seem to be active and progressing then join up.
Jump in their parties, their voice chats, and just go take some keeps. During my time in Cyrodiil and worked with large bands that consisted of members from six or seven guilds. There were groups of people working with their own guilds, but the ones that seemed to be doing the best were the loose, unaffiliated groups that wanted to accomplish the same thing. That kind of mentality carries over into PvE.
And it was a blast. It is probably the reason it took me near 300 hours to finish one-third of the game. All that PvP with siege and large groups. I did get some great loot every time I participated and a good amount of gold at the end of the ninety day season, so it felt a bit worthwhile. That and the emperor. Really felt good getting that for the few hours I had it.
I'll probably jump back into Cyrodiil for a bit before this next major patch changes up the campaigns. Just stall on the VR content for the time being.
So what about my statement from back in February?
Do I still stand by those words?
Oh there were less people in PvP because everyone believed that you had to be max level to be worthwhile. It isn't true... you simply had to focus on being with a group instead of solo killing. A few of the classes and skills had some really big bugs, but they were not completely incapable of getting around. The huge number of quests and stuff to do was great... unless you felt forced to do it all as fast as possible so you don't get left behind. And you didn't... the megaserver pretty much ensured every zone was populated with people doing quests. Every single public dungeon I went into during my time there had people in it trying to complete it. I always managed to get people to help me complete the group achievements too.
But you know... It probably has the most content of an MMORPG released this year, and they've put out major patches (1.1, 1.2, and 1.3) pretty quickly. At this pace, I feel like I'm getting my money's worth every month. I don't feel like I've completed all the content and have to wait for the next major gear/raid update to have something to do. They are very open about upcoming changes, and every patch seems to get better. For a company that has never handled an MMORPG before, I believe they have done an excellent job.
If you gave the game a 7/10 at release it can easily become an 8 or 8.5 here in August 2014 with the release of 1.3.
Is it the best MMORPG of 2014?
I'd say so. They've not only fixed the majority of the bugs people complained about, but they are already implementing changes to the game at the request of the players. VR content has been made better, and even the trading/selling is getting an improvement here in August. It will include guild tabards and guild rank changes as well as a dye system based on the achievements in game. I'm expecting another raid/trial/zone content update before the end of the year at the rate they are going. I think I heard there were going to be some improvements to Werewolves too.
This company seems to be on the ball. Whatever stumbles they had out the gate seem to be gone and they are pushing fast to make sure they stay ahead of any new contenders that have appeared and will appear.
Time will tell, and I'm certainly willing to give them that and my money.
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History of Shadowbane
Shadowbane was a free fantasy role-playing video game (MMORPG) created by Wolfpack Studios and published on March 25, 2003 by Ubisoft for Windows and Mac platforms. Originally commercial and subscription-driven, Shadowbane was launched in March 2003, and was the creation of text-MUD veterans J. Todd Coleman, James Nance, Josef Hall, Patrick Blanton and Robert Marsa and a team of 45 programmers, designers, artists and featured music by composer David Beaupre. It closed on July 1, 2009.
Shadowbane was a top-10 best selling PC game at launch, and had two noteworthy aspects. First, the majority of the game world allowed for open player versus player combat, making it an early pioneer title in the PvP MMO genre. Second, it was the first major MMO to offer dynamic world content as a primary feature of the game. Most MMOs are static, meaning the world itself does not change based on player actions. Dynamic worlds allow player to change the game world itself; morphing terrain, building and destroying buildings and fortifications, and setting up patrol paths for player-hired AI combatants. The game was considered a "cult hit" and sustained a small base of followers, but technical issues plagued the game at launch and failed to retain much of the early fanbase shortly afterward.
After the sale of Wolfpack Studios to Ubi Soft in March 2004, the live service was transitioned to a new management and (largely new) development team, led by Frank Lucero and Ala Diaz. This team later splintered off to become Stray Bullet Games in June 2006, and Mark Nuasha was brought in to run the organization. On March 15, 2006 the game was made free-to-play. A system of short ads was introduced on March 6, 2007 to fund operating costs, which are displayed when the game is opened or closed and when a character dies (with at least 10 minutes between death ads). On March 19, 2008, all servers were closed to prepare for the "Shadowbane Reboot," a relaunching of the game to capitalize on stability and performance gains hindered by previously existing data. All player characters and cities were deleted in this reboot. On March 25, 2008, the fifth anniversary of the game's launch, two servers were brought online followed by a third due to overpopulation. The game was closed the following July.
The regular game took place in a dark fantasy world called Aerynth (the world will sometimes depend on the servers, many of which have unique world maps). Gameplay features many aspects typical of role-playing video games, such as experience points, character classes, and fantasy races. Character creation was fairly extensive, allowing for detailed, differentiate characters to be created.
Shadowbane was notable for emphasizing player-versus-player combat, implementing non-conventional races and specializing in siege warfare (players building cities and trying to raze enemy players' cities) whereas a significant number of MMORPGs released since Ultima Online usually restrict player killing to certain areas of the game or special dedicated PvP servers. The game also featured a seamless world map, and made no use of instancing.
Players were also allowed to own cities and capitals and most of the property and cities in Shadowbane were player owned. In effect, Shadowbane's war status was decided by the players rather than the game company. Whether a guild city went to war with another guild city was entirely up to the leaders. A government system was also implemented in the game. It ensured players were in total control of the Shadowbane world.
Though there were no quests in the game, Shadowbane featured PVP, Nation, and Siege Warfare systems, which offered players a wide range of in-game opportunities.
The basic mode of transportation is by foot or by flight. Running and flight will use up your stamina and will have to be replenished during your trip if it is a far distance. The maps are open world so without other means of transportation available you always have the option of running. This is made easier with the implementation of a Traveling Stance spell and a sprint spell both of which are granted at level one. Some other classes offer different run speed enhancement spells. Throughout the Shadowbane world the player could interact with NPCs called runemasters, these NPCs allowed the player to teleport him or herself to a number of different cities across the world, also scattered across the world map were runegates which a player could use to the same effect as a runemaster. There was also a fairly unique ability implemented in Shadowbane that healer based classes could access allowing one to summon, or transport, a player character to their location within only a few moments via a spell. There are also items purchaseable from sage NPC's called scrolls of recall that will teleport your character to the Tree of Life you are bound to. All mage classes also are granted a personal recall spell, and wizards are granted a group recall spell.
Gold is the basic form of trade-able currency in the game. You acquire gold through the defeat of NPC Mobs and the sale of items you collect to vendors located in both NPC cities and player owned cities. The NPC cities offer you a safe, quick and convenient way to sell your items but are locked to a specific payout table. Player cities however can set their vendor payouts to different scales. While player cities offer the chance at a higher gold value for items you also run the risk of being hunted down within these cities. The player controlled vendors also are what craft different gear to be sold on them. You can set them to be random rolled stats payed for be gold on the vendor or specific stat sets paid for by resources gathered and held on a guild warehouse. You are also able to set prices for items you complete or that you place on said vendors.
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<<This blog is intended for the Pathfinder Online community.>>
The "PvP Game" Myth
I'm sure you've all encountered it. You come into a new game where PvP is enabled, early on in the game someone kills you for absolutely no reason and shortly after you notice a PM "Welcome to (Game's Name)." The proponents of this type of play always say, "It's a PvP game, the point is to kill people." But is this really the intent? Does the ability to engage in Open World PvP automatically mean that a game is a "PvP game" and that killing people is the "point" of the game?
While the common perception seems to be yes, I actually consider it a fairly obvious truth that the answer is in fact no. Open world / non-factional PvP opens a game up into a broad world of realistic diplomacy and human interaction where the threat of violence is always present, but not guaranteed. Quite often cooperation can lead to better results for both parties than violence, but violence can often be the quickest way to get what's desired by those wielding power, especially if cooperation fails. This is in stark contrast to a true PvP game such a Halo, Planetside, or The Ettenmoors in Lord of the Rings Online where violence is the primary means of progression and cooperation between enemies is discouraged. Playing the former as if it were the latter actually detracts from the experience by replacing the depth, complexity, and of the interaction with a simple near-certainty of violence that the most dense neanderthal would understand perfectly. Fight or flight, kill or be killed.
It's an incredibly unfortunate circumstance because the depth and realism found in a non-faction based Open World PvP game cannot be found anywhere else, but these games tend to be dominated by players who operate with the basest and most animalistic instincts, strangling the potential complexity these titles could offer. Generally a developer cannot seek the depth and realism found in a game that offers open world / non-faction based PvP without proponents of the "PvP Game" myth coming in and planting their flag, and then abusing the rest of the customer until they leave. This pattern of behavior has lead to a segregation of PvP and PvE communities.
Most people quite simply do not want to be killed on a frequent basis while they are out questing, crafting, role-playing with their friends etc. But many PvPers exercise absolutely no restraint in who they kill, how they kill, and why they kill. They want to kill people, and that's that. The industry has been offering the same solution for a long time now. Segregate the populations. This generally happens in the form of a PvP server where players can slaughter one another without consequence or restraint, or in the form of offering some zones where PvP is nearly or entirely disabled and others where it has no restrictions.
It's been a successful compromise in many regards but it leaves no place for a player seeking a realistic world where sometimes things come to non-consensual violence but there is still a sane and mostly civilized society where most people generally don't bash in each-other's heads just for the fun of it. Where a true killer has some level of infamy because these is a much less savage society around him. Where a paladin who protects the innocent actually has someone to protect. No place for the pacifist preacher and the bloodthirsty barbarian to inhabit the same world. There is no middle ground, it's a "PvP game" or a "PvE game." A "PvP server" or a "PvE server." There is no reason for the two to inhabit the same space, and the PvEers quite simply will not put up with it.
Why This Won't Work in Pathfinder Online
Pathfinder Online is an MMO which contains non-factional Open World PvP. There are only three titles worth mentioning that I'm aware of with a similar model. EVE, Darkfall, and Mortal. Darkfall and Mortal have minimal restrictions on slaughter and a few small safe areas for players to start in. Both titles are very small, and low population is a constant concern. EVE has a huge amount of space with unrestricted PvP, but also a huge amount relatively safe space where the vast majority of the game's population lives.
Pathfinder Online is going for the former of the two models. Starter zones are for starting out in, not a place where people live long term like they do in EVE's high sec. These starter zones are separated by a great deal of space where PvP is enabled. Quite simply, if you want to have a game as much more successful than Darkfall and Mortal then these PvP enabled areas are going to require a much higher degree of regulation.
The Most Overlooked Fact of Pathfinder Online
In the community the greatest argument that Pathfinder Online is a PvP game is that it player interaction is the content, and that this is a non-consensual / non-faction Open World PvP game. You will not be able to go far in this game without the threat of being engaged in PvP. Every time you leave the starter zone you subject yourself to that chance. If you want a settlement, a point of interest, or an outpost and all the associated benefit you are giving people a target to raid. You may be able to avoid most PvP by joining groups with PvP oriented players who do most of it for you, but it's a fact that every group will have to deal with.
Here's three things that have been overlooked.
1. Crafting drives player interaction, and is non-consensual. Monsters in Pathfinder Online do not drop completed items, they drop resources. So guess what? Every single player will either have to craft there own items, or buy them from a player who does, just like a non-PvPer could contract a mercenary to do much of their PvP for them. But nobody, will be able to "opt out" of the usage of player crafted items and remain effective. There will likely never be a player in PFO who can craft everything they need, so trade is a major driver of player interaction in PFO as well.
2. PVE drives player interaction, and is non-consensual. I don't just mean you might aggro a mob and have to run out of range, in Pathfinder Online there are escalations that build up in strength over time. If someone doesn't deal with them, they escalate to the point they have negative impacts on the surrounding area and actually threaten your player owned structures. If you don't want your settlement destroyed by that vampire escalation then you are going to have to have someone go out there and fight them. Beyond that, like crafting and PvP there are skills that make players vastly more effective against certain types of NPCs. Your band of bloodthirsty PvPers may have to bring in someone who specializes in slaying vampires in order to deal with the threat effectively.
3. Trade drives player interaction, and is non-consensual. It's been confirmed that no region will have all the resources it needs to thrive on it's own, and that moving resources in this game will not be a matter of dropping them in a mail-box. In order to run a successful settlement, trade is an absolute necessity, and you will almost certainly have to trade with players from other regions of the game, driving player interaction.
So crafters, PvEers and traders have the same rights to claim that Pathfinder Online is a crafting game, a PvE game, or a trading game as PvPers have to claim it is a PvP game.
Desegregating the Game
I hope to that to this point I've established a fairly strong case that desegregation of the PvE and PvP community is not only desirable, but a necessity of PFO's longterm success. That we cannot afford to buy into the "PvP Game" myth, any more than we can do away with PvP entirely. PFO needs to make a compromise:
• The non-PvP crowd must accept that there is a level of danger present in PFO not present in non-PvP game that helps drive the player interaction this game uses in place of scripted content. They need to learn to embrace that added bit of danger and let it actually enhance their experience.
• The PvP crowd crowd needs to accept that they are not free to abuse everyone without limitations, and that an environment where people are constantly dying just because they exist is in-fact abusive. The history of MMO's shows PvPers cannot exercise enough self restraint to not run off the greater majority of the game's potential players, so heavier restrictions than most titles with open world / non-factional PvP have had in the past is a requirement.
What kind of PvP needs to be encouraged?
In order to allow for player interaction to be the game's driving mechanic PvP is nearly a requirement. We need that kind of content, so what do we want to see?
• Warfare- Conflict between player factions is in my opinion, the highest form of PvP. We want a world where there are large powerful groups sending their soldiers against one another to help further their beliefs and motives.
• Raiding- We want there to be the temptation for groups to seal resources from one another. This helps create a strong element of competition but also is less harsh on individual players.
• Limited Banditry / Trader Interception- A certain level of danger while trading helps turn it from a task of moving items from point A to point B to something exciting that actually takes a level of skill to be successful at. Too much danger strangles trade, and ultimately could end with many trade oriented players quitting due to an inability to turn a profit.
• PvPer vs PvPer Combat- The system should encourage systems that cause PvP oriented players to attack each other. Why? Because it creates lots of content both parties can enjoy. Some players have grown to tolerate the brutality of unrestricted Open World PvP environments and those players shouldn't be forced to accept game mechanics that protect them from the conflict they desire.
What kind of PvP needs to be discouraged?
• Killing for Killing's Sake- With the exception of players who intentionally open themselves up to PvP without consequence, the game should highly discourage players running around killing people simply because they want combat. Players should generally have preventative measures they can take to minimize their exposure to PvP outside never leaving the starter zones, but if you are simply being killed because you exist there is little you can do to prevent that beyond quitting the game... so that's what many players will do if this is a serious problem.
How Does Pathfinder Online Achieve This Compromise?
Pathfinder Online offers many opportunities for "sanctioned" PvP designed to allow people to engage in positive PvP. There are war and feud systems designed to allow player factions to push forward their objectives through combat, a Stand and Deliver system to allow for banditry, factional warfare to let players who just want to fight engage in combat against similar players of opposing NPC factions, and outpost raids for resource competition and those looking for a high chance of player resistance.
Un-sanctioned PvP results in a lowered reputation. Unlike many other game's this isn't entirely preventing you from engaging in NPC outside what is considered sanctioned. The fact that there will be justifiable reasons for killing outside what the mechanics can measure is accounted for. But there shouldn't be a need to do so as frequently as someone killing for killings sake would, which is why lowering reputation comes with stronger and stronger penalties as it drops further and further.
Character creation can be a holy experience. It is a virtual baptism, a chance to wipe the slate clean and attempt to rebuild yourself according to a direction you set. It's easy to get drunk on that sense of possibility.
The problem comes when you're an altaholic like me. Much like real alcohol dependency, you build up a tolerance. Each individual drink and each gaming reset builds your tolerance, makes the next hit a little less impactful. I tend to constantly reset, delete, reset, delete. Reset.
What I'm going to try doing here is starting again, binging on that high, and then pushing each of those characters to full. Let that high last. I'm aware of the ridiculousness inherent in such thoughts - "Just one for the road!" - but knowing its ridiculousness doesn't stop the hypnotic power inherent in the idea.
So what kind of reset am I talking about?
I have dabbled a bit in Rift, The Secret World, and Guild Wars 2. I've created characters with very specific concepts that sturdy in my mind, but not very flexible. As soon as I get a bit bored or the character deviates slightly from what I wanted, they snap. Delete. Reset. I want to end that aspect of it, and so I'm going to try surprising myself a bit. How? Randomize it a bit.
Ultimately, the class of the character won't determine the fun and fulfillment. What I do with the character will. I'm going to try surprising myself with these characters. Stephen King believed that you don't create characters - you discover them, pre-existing, and try to dust them off and bring them into the world as honestly and skillfully as you can. This isn't the same, but perhaps it shares some of the same genetic code as King's idea.
For each set of options, I'll go to random.org, input the number of choices, and decide from there. (E.g. if I'm deciding between Bobby, Jill, and Anish, and I get #2, then Jill is the winner.)
Race: Mathosian - High Elf - Dwarf - Eth - Kelari - Bahmi === #2: High Elf
Gender: Male - Female === #1: Male
Calling: Cleric - Mage - Rogue - Warrior === #2: Mage
I'm going to try building this character around a primary soul, keeping it for the most part non-hybrid (unless I end up with something like Stormcaller, which is so AoE heavy that it'll make solo tougher than I want). As much of my time will be spent solo, I'll keep this menu restricted to offensive souls, though will play around with the others in group play.
Primary Soul: Elementalist - Harbinger - Necromancer - Pyromancer - Stormcaller - Warlock === #6: Warlock
I'll randomize the name, too. (I'm especially comfortable with this because most of us don't get to pick our names. They pick us, without asking permission.) Whatever number random.org picks between 1-20, that's how often I'll hit "Random" for name. I just hope I don't get something like "Dunkweasel" or whatever the elvish version of that is.
Name: 1-20 === #3: Seoscan
Guild Wars 2
Race: Asura - Charr - Human - Norn - Sylvari === #2: Charr
Gender: Male - Female === #1: Male
Profession: Elementalist - Engineer - Guardian - Mesmer - Necromancer - Ranger - Thief - Warrior === #1: Elementalist
I know approximately jack about Charr names and don't see a randomizer in game, but found one here:
Name: 1-20 === #18: Garfaz Brokenpaw
Two down, one to go.
The Secret World
As you may know there are no races or classes in TSW. But I'm old school in this way - I'm more comfortable working within some sort of pre-set class-type parameters, and so I'll make one. TSW has three factions which I'll use for race. For class, it has pre-built "decks," or specific combinations of weapons and skills. I'll pick one of those decks as my class, and use that as a template for my primary weapons, gradually working towards the deck (mostly because you get a pretty badass outfit for completing the skills required by a specific deck).
Faction: Dragon - Illuminati - Templar === #1: Dragon
Gender: Male - Female === #2: Female
Primary Deck: Assassin - Chaos Theorist - Hunter - Martial Artist - Monk - Neoshaman - Ninja - Pandemonist - Warlord - Warrior - Wu === #10: Warrior (Assault Rifle & Shotgun)
Again, there's no name generator, but TSW is a modern world atmosphere. The Dragon are Seoul-based, so I might as well make this Dragon Korean. The factions are international, but this helps naturally narrow it.
I'll still randomize, drawing from Wikipedia's Korean name lists.
Family Name: 1-50 === #28: Cho
Given Name: 1-10 === #5: Seo-yun
-Seoscan, the High Elven warlock
-Garfaz Brokenpaw, the Charr elementalist
-Cho "Seo-yun" Seo-yun, the Dragon warrior (phenomenal NES game, btw)
For any West Wing fans, the episode that jumps to mind is when Bartlet debates Ritchie. He spends so much of the pre-debate prep trying to come up with short, succinct sound bite answers that are incomplete, however easy to digest. Ritchie relies on this in the debate, and Bartlet tossed his attempts at this by embracing the complexity of the problems, asking Ritchie, "What are the next 10 words?"
Character creation was a blast. It was quick and easy. I'm excited to go forward.
-AWK, Covenant of the Phoenix
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I have played almost every MMO that has come out, be it the beta or a subscription for the last 16 years. My first was a little 2d gem called The Realm that was actually a lot of fun.
Then came what I feel is the MMO that started it all, it was not the first but in my option is still the best, UO. The only game to date that made me feel as I was part of a living breathing world. Others have tried but failed and most do not even come close or even try. It's sad and I blame it on the next MMO I tried which was EQ or the beginning of the end.
EQ while being 3D for the first time started the amusement park style game which WoW then copied, perfected and plagues the market still.
Before EQ I never had to go collect 6 rat tails and turn them in for a reward. I just grabbed my sword, ran out into the world and tried not to die.
Before EQ I never had to camp mobs looking for some drop that might take 12 hours to get. I would join my buds in an edge of your seat romp through a dungeon trying not to be killed by NPC and PKers.
Scripted boss battles are the norm now, if you are the first to fight it then great the trial and error trying to figure it out can be fun. But that's not how it works, you read the strategy on the web and go through the motions, over and over and over again.
End game raiding, end game? Why do I want my game to have an end? So I run around collected rat tails long enough to where I can go to some place to get some gear by doing scripted boss battles so that I can move to the next tier dungeon for more scripted fun? Blah blah blah blah.
The above also started all the DPS counter BS which then alienates guild members and creates an unfriendly atmosphere. You can't come to the raid you only have a dull sword, you need a shiny one so get out. Players end up getting a superiority complex because then can follow a script better then the next guy. Way to go guys!!
Leveling up to gain new skills so you can watch your icon bars and click a button once a cool down is complete is also lame in my opinion. but that's what they all do these days and when playing I find myself just watching a bar to click a series of icon rather then being in the moment.
The amusement park ride gets old as you can tell by how just the members here jump from game to game looking for the one to no avail. I do not think the MMO genre will last if there is not a change in the way these games are made.
Grim and I have been playing UO on a free shard which once I was back in that world reminded me of what MMOs have become and how sad it is.
UO is not for everyone that is for certain, it's the wild wild west. The moment you step out of the protection of the town guards you need to be prepared to die and loose everything you have on you. Not only to PKers but even the NPCs will rummage through your gear and steal you stuff. Plus you're a ghost and will be standing next to your body watching the looting of your corpse until you can find a healer to rez you and make a mad dash back to your body. As nasty as that sounds it's what makes it so fun and exciting.
Some games have tried to capture what UO had, Darkfall and Mortal made good attempts at it. Darkfall I will not comment on as well that was a living hell for me and I do not want to go back there. Mortal sadly might have done it but I could not get used to playing in the first person view.
Man I could rant on for hours but I better get back to work before someone catches me
Back again, fellow Guildies. Last time I weighed you down with a lot of personal information about myself and promised you a more interesting read this time around. So I figured why not look at the guild as a whole instead of one ol' little member, hmm?
I'm not going to go too deep into the history of the Covenant, especially since that's already covered and way out of my time line. If you're curious about how Covenant of the Phoenix came to be, Throne has posted the first part of it's history right here. Personally, I think everyone should at least give it a look through. It's good to know your roots.
Instead, I will be looking at what makes the Covenant... well, the Covenant! And a bit of what you should expect of it's future.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (and yes, I have to pay George Lucas every time I use that line), several gamers put together the idea for a guild. That idea soon became the Covenant of the Phoenix. Their morals and beliefs on how one should be, even in a virtual setting, created the Charter. Every recruit reads the Charter, agreeing to abide by it's laws before becoming a true member of the Guild. In fact, before anyone can take a leadership position of any form, they must first be tested on their knowledge of the Charter and swear to uphold it.
There have been times that I have actually looked to the Charter for answers on how to handle situations within our Chapter. And the Charter did not disappoint. I'm not saying it's an end all, beat all source for information. But it certainly works as a guideline if you're on the edge about something.
So way back when the founders created Covenant of the Phoenix, what did they hope to accomplish? What was their driving goal for banding together? To get the 100% accurate answer to that, you'd have to ask someone like Throne. But I can certainly take a guess.
Let's take my own experience with online games for an example. I've hopped through a few here and there, and I've seen a lot of horrible practices not only from players, but from guilds as a whole. I've seen Elitism, been shunned by many just because I didn't know what I was doing or wasn't a high enough level. I've been completely ignored for not having all the gear others do, and told that I would be good when I "caught up".
But that's not how Covenant of the Phoenix operates. I've seen it with my own eyes, how you make the time and effort to help those who are struggling or just starting out. People who understand that real life takes precedence over trying to min/max your toon. Members offering to help push them through a hard area, play a lower level character with them, or flat out supply them with items and currency just because someone needed them. It's true that a lot of this is done as a synergy; the belief that doing this act will result in them doing the same when the roles are reversed. But that is not a bad idea to have.
Look at the Officers and Elders of your Chapter. Ask yourself: "Why have they been placed in charge? What made them volunteer for such an act?". I can tell you, it's not out of any bid for power or supremacy; that's just not how we Phoenix think and feel. They do so out of a sheer love of the games they play, and they want everyone to have the most fun they possibly can. Officers sacrifice their extra play time to bring something special to your experience. To make your game sessions a little better, and help everyone in your Chapter reach their goals. Without the organization of events by your Officers and Elders, a good amount of your play experience would be gone in an instant. No more group events with random games to keep you entertained. No more organized collecting of members for large scale runs through tough areas of the game. Nothing.
They are Covenant of the Phoenix.
And what about the members? The folks who join the Guild, growing it's ranks. Without all of you, we would have no Guild. If none of you had decided to join us, to add your hand to the fun we all have in our many games, Covenant of the Phoenix would have died out long ago. Your Chapter Leader, not long ago, was a regular member like you. They joined because they wanted people to play with; fun people who wanted to enhance the experience of their games together. And if they hadn't taken ranks within Covenant of the Phoenix, where would your Chapter be now? The future of Covenant of the Phoenix lies within it's members, every single one of them.
You are Covenant of the Phoenix.
So what is in the Covenant's future? That's up to you all to decide. When it was founded long ago, I can almost guarantee that none of them thought it would become so large. Hundreds of players stretched over dozens of games, all bearing the Phoenix's tags. All holding the same virtual morals and purpose: To have fun and to help others have fun. When the day comes that the current leadership moves on, Covenant will not be gone. New people will step up to take their place, the dreams and hopes of the guild itself lying upon their shoulders. We shall look up to them just as much as we do our current leaders. And they shall continue to bring all of us together and build a legacy for years to come.
I'm very new here, so I sadly did not have the privilege of meeting other members of our leadership that are no longer with us. But just glancing through the forums, even someone like myself can see how important those who are no longer with us have been to this guild. It is that kind of commitment and dedication to the Phoenix that lets me know how far we can all go. We all should shoulder such dedication to the Covenant, to uphold their dreams of how an online community must be. No one can replace our leadership team, nor should they. Instead, we take their beliefs and dreams for Covenant's future, and nurture them ourselves, to further it's legacy.
The bottom line is, the Covenant will last as long as we want it to. As we continue to pave the way through our games as a group, we set an example for those that will come after us. Much like raising a child, it is our actions and attitude towards our fellow players that will determine how the newer members will act and think.
So the next time you see someone yelling out in General chat for help, consider taking a break from your grinding to give them a hand. Heal or buff a random stranger in the middle of a tough fight. Ask an ungrouped player if they're looking to pair up. Because it is the hospitality and positiveness of us all that will determine just how far we go.
After all, we're all just here for fun, aren't we? Let's spread it out.
So this is my first venture into blog territory, and i thought it would be appropriate because i love to write and give people something to enjoy. I entitled this 'Joe's Uber Fun Blog' in reference to my youtube show 'Joe's Uber Fun Hour' which is very different to your usual viewing, anyway i didnt start this to talk about my show (youtube.com/joesuberfunhour )
so, to the article at hand
Ork Murder and Wizards
For me, as an Australian, Space Marine releases tomorrow, and by god i am keen, i spent about 8 hours today watching someone stream it from start to finish over the internet, and even though i know what happens, ill probably give it a few playthroughs myself. I am a huge warhammer fan, i am tattooed in very painful area's with warhammer art (no, NOT on my nads, thanks for the thought though ) and i plan on having the emperor's litany and alot of chaos and imperial art tattooed on my back, its going to look amazing, and cost me more money than i can save. I have spent alot of time playing through the demo of this and looking at dev diaries and im am very pleased at how the IP was handled, though that being said, it is relic and THQ, who did Dawn of war, making this, so i have plenty of faith (and i did watch the stream, so yeah GG).
Now with Space Marine looking very very good, and worth more than one purchase (to me, games companies that go above and beyond to deliver an amazing product and not think with their wallets deserve my support, so i show it buy buying multiple copies of their product, i have done this with batman arkham asylum, which i own 3 copies -pc CE, steam and ps3, and so far, none others, because no other developer has 'wowed' me like that). with the game being that good, my hopes for the MMO (Dark Millenium Online) of being an excellent game are rising even higher.
So about once a week i check gog.com for any new releases in the hopes i get some awesome hidden gems that i miss, and with great pleasure i was able to see and buy one. Nox was released on gog.com this week to my delight, and by got that games was so far ahead of its time, its just so smooth, the effects in the game are crazy (the freaking mouse pointer on the main menu entertains me WAY more than it should) and the gameplay is challenging and solid. Nox is a game similar to diablo, but without skillpoints and skill trees, you can play 3 classes (warrior, conjuror and wizard) and play through 3 slightly different campaigns. when you level up its like you just defeated an immortal and had a quickening, its brutal as. i chose to play as a wizard, because i love casters, the casting in the game is very different to any other game, and, it may be the fact that im not very sober right now, or that im slack, but im not going to explain it youll just have to buy this gem for 5.99 and get blown away yourself, the game kicks an amazing amount of arse.
so sitiing here in my room, looking at my 30" monitor, typing this, with a self constructed 'Joe Version' Tallie of rum and coke (half a bottle of captain morgan, with coke added to the bottle) i think about how i like to entertain, i like to make people laugh, give people an experience, i try to do that with my youtube show, right now it may seem like just a bunch of cut together videos and music of me and my friends being incredibly drunk, but its more than that, its effort, in my episodic series, im currently shooting my 8th episode in a very different way, with a story and proffesional camera angles and shots, with alot of it being done completely sober, with some slightly scripted dialouge. And this blog, i want to show more of me to this guild, that even though i have been slightly absent from in the past year, i care about, ive been a member for 3 years, been an officer of the Warhammer Online chapter, the leader of the champions online chapter, and moderator of the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop board (which i assume and hope in the future ill be in charge of the DMO chapter heres hoping, hint hint)
so thats my first rant into a keyboard screen thing, i am intoxicated
check my spam thread in jabberworks, its entertaining to say the least, i try to sound all coherent when im not, its great
um, death to the false emperor?
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I'm writing this blog post to vent, but also in the hopes that somewhere in cyberspace it will be picked up and cataloged by search engines and spread like a virus...to warn others of the evil corporation that AT&T is: their service sucks, their customer service sucks, most of their technicians, linemen, IR techs, and supervisors suck...and in general they just suck as a whole.
My story begins around June...no names have been changed to protect the guilty. Admitedly my timeline may be a little off, but for the most part it's accurate I believe.
June 2011, I decided to give AT&T's Uverse service a try. I've been a lifelong landline phone customer with them, and I've been a DSL broadband customer since it was made available in my area around June 2006. Uverse had just been announced about a month ago, and I had high hopes that whatever bugs or issues it had in my area had been worked out by now. Phone, TV, and internet all in one nice neat little package with a speed boost to boot!
I was wrong...so terribly wrong...
Technician and a lineman show up on time on a Friday morning for my install. I'd taken off from work that day so I'd be at home. The lineman actually ran new wire from the road to my house, said it had some kind of problem and they wanted to make sure everything would work right (LMAO!). My installer, DAVE, goes about his business and gets everything up and working in about 3 hours. He even went under my house and replaced the old phone line with a new CAT5 cable so the iNet box and the Gateway could talk without issues (another LMAO). Dave finishes up and hands me the remote, gives me his phone number if I have an issue, and off we go!
Sometime later that night, something goes wrong...
Saturday morning my TV starts pixelating and freezing up, and I loose phone and internet connectivity. The service comes and goes whenever it wants to...sometimes the phone and internet work (barely), sometimes they don't. TV is done...it's either frozen and pixelated or just looses signal all the way.
I called Dave, just like he told me to! Dave told me that he couldn't do anything about my problem...and that I needed to call the 800 number and file a repair ticket. Needless to say, I wasn't very happy with Dave...he lied to me! Why give me your phone number and tell me to call you if you're not going to do a Jeepers thing when I do?
Fine...I call the 800 number, spend about an hour on the phone between the robot, the hold time, the transfer, and the bullshit troubleshooting script they force you to go through. I get my repair ticket...THE GOLDEN TICKET! Technician is supposed to be at my house on Sunday between 12 noon and 4pm.
So, install, I get one nights service, and I'm out for basically two days. Not good...but it gets WORSE!
About 2pm Sunday I get a call from an AT&T robot, who tells me that my repair service has been DELAYED, but that the technician should be onsite no later than 6pm. Wow...great service there. Time rolls on...six PM comes and goes...NO PHONE CALL, NO AT&T TECHNICIAN.
I'm pissed off, but I figure what the hell, it's Sunday...maybe they got tied up and had to roll the problem over to Monday and I just didn't get notified. I'm trying to be reasonable, I'm trying to be a good little lemming for the folks at AT&T...I drank the kool aid, I should give them a chance...right?
Monday morning comes, and I'm confident that someone will be at my house first thing to handle my problem! I leave for work...my wife calls about two hours later...not a word, not a sign, not a THING from AT&T. What the Jeepers...?
I call the 800 number, speak to the robot, he puts me on hold while my blood is boiling over. The phone monkey picks up, transfers me once as is custom, and I'm talking to the tech support folks at Uverse now. I'm pissed off, I ask for a supervior, I want to know why the tech didn't show up yesterday, and why I wasn't the first house on the roster for a truck to be at today? I get bullshit for answers, nobody is responsible, nobody is accountable. Unfortunately for me, the soonest they can get a tech out to my house is TOMORROW (Tuesday). I'm so pissed off I can barely talk at this point. Not that it matters, the zombie on the other end of the line could give a Shinazzy less, and I know that. I take some more blood pressure medications and wait for Tuesday...
Tuesday morning bright and early the AT&T truck shows up (boy was I surprised)! I think this guys name was Robert Taylor. I've called out from work this morning to handle my issues, so this is now about 8 hours of my time I've invested in being onsite for the technicians since my install, and I've got about 2 more hours invested in holding on the phone time. Technician goes through and does his dance...replaced the iNET box (this is #2 so far) and says something wasn't grounded correctly. He checks all the other equipment, I'm back up and running again (for now). He puts in a trouble ticket for the all mysterious, all powerful LINEMEN to look at my problem just to be safe. Robert gives me his cell phone number, tells me to call if I have any more trouble!
I get almost four (4) days of relatively troublefree service. Every once and a while I notice the pixelation in my TV, but it is brief and infrequent...I can settle for that.
Sunday morning, I wake up to no service. TV has no signal, phone and internet are either slow or intermittent.
Like an idiot, I call Robert! He actually answers the phone, and he sounds concerned! He says he can't get out there today, but that he AND his supervisor will come out late Monday and get the problem fixed one way or another.
I believed him...
I even called on Monday and got his voicemail. I reminded him of our conversation and told him I'd see him that afternoon. I made arrangements to come home early (another 2 hours of lost work time) so I could be there.
GUESS WHAT?!?! Yep...noone shows up. I'm so canoodling pissed off at that point I figured that calling Robert was a useless gesture. I call the 800 number, talk to the robot, wait on hold, get transfered, and about an hour later I have yet another GOLDEN TROUBLE TICKET for someone to come out and look at my awesome UVERSE service. Been a customer for 10 days, have a grand total of about 4 1/2 days of uninteruppted service by this point.
Why do these AT&T employees give you thier cell phone and tell you to call them, then they don't do a canoodling thing when you do?
Why does AT&T make appointments with you that noone shows up for, then they expect YOU to follow up with THEM to make sure THEY do thier job and send someone else?
At this point my memory hazes over as we fall into a routine which I sadly participate in for about two months. I have a few days of service, it stops working, I call the 800 number, talk to the robot, talk to the tech support, get a ticket, they send someone who comes out and pokes around my house, replaces equipemnt, and then tells me it's someone elses problem. They then supposedly file another golden ticket with the illusive LINEMAN and the IR TECHS who allegedy do some magical thing behind the curtain like the Wizard of Oz. I say allegedly because whatever they are doing doens't fix a Jeepers thing...at least not for me, over the last two months. I've got all these names scribbled down on my original Uverse channel guide: Shannon, Robert, Dave, Brett, Jason, and John Carr...supervior over the inside techs for my area. John is a special story I'll get to shortly...
While I'm thinking about it, let me tell you that I've discovered that AT&T has taken most of it's support business model from Al Qadea!!! Aparently, AT&T is arranged much like Al Qadea in that their workers are divided into these cells that don't or can't talk to each other, the inside techs can't talk to the linemen, and I don't think the IR techs talk to any of these other folks. This is much like terrorist cells that don't know who the other terrorists are so they can't rat on them if they get caught. The linemen and IR techs aparently also don't have supervisors or answer to anyone within the AT&T business structure...they are kinda like the CIA in that they exist above and outside the organization aparently. They don't talk to mere mortal customers nor can a mere mortal customer speak with anyone in any position of authority over these mysterious shadow people. The inside techs file mysterious tickets with these folks who then may or may not do anything, whenever they get ready to. They never tell you what they did (not that it matters) and they don't have to tell you when they may or may not be doing it. I wish my job were like that...
But I digress: back to the recent past. After several visits (I think around six or seven) over a two month period, I finally ask for and get the attention of John Carr, the supposed supervisor over the inside technicians in my area. I think to myself HOT Jeepers, my preserverence and persistance has paid off...now I got THE BOSS coming to my house. Boss man has to leave the office, some Shinazzy is going to get fixed! Boss Man John shows up with Jason, and they are working hard for about four or five hours at my house. They replace just about everything except the TV cabling, the battery backup box, and the TV recievers. They're on the phone talking to people, they're on the iPad chatting with people. HELL YEAH! This is what I'm talking about...SERVICE! They are talking to linemen, talking about port swaps and replacing wiring along my road and checking something in "the box" down the street and I'm so filled with hope that this is the day that my Uverse service will work forever after. They finish thier work, Bossman John Carr gives me his cell phone number and tells me to call him if I have a problem and that we're going to work together to get this service issue SOLVED once and for all! I hear angels singing in the distance, I hear the hallelujah chorus, the sun shines brightly on my face and warms my heart. I'm thinking rainbows and unicorns...
I think that was on a Friday. By Sunday, no service again. TV loses signal or pixelates and locks up, phone and internet are intermittent or not working at all. I call John Carr, he's on it! Gets me a technician that day, the tech comes out, pokes around, files a ticket with the allmighty linemen and IR techs behind the curtain. Service comes back, I notice a little pixelation, I call John Carr...he assures me that it's probably just a problem somewhere futher down the line and assures me that the magical linemen and IR techs have done their job and fixed my problem...but he says he will consult with those Gods again just to make double sure.
I get about 10 more days of service this time.
Today, I wake up, and once again, just like only hours after my original installation...I have no TV service, and my internet and home phone aren't working right. Wow...just.......wow.
I call JOHN CARR, and he absolutely ignores me. I called one of the other six techs that has been out to my house, he's stunned to hear from me and tells me he's going to call John to get me some help. John never calls me back. NOW I KNOW WHERE HIS EMPLOYEES GET THAT TRICK FROM! Sure, give the customer your number, make them feel better, give them that false sense of security that someone human actually cares about your problems...and then Jeepers THEM if they call you! HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHA! The jokes on them...SUCKERS!
Fortunately, by this point, I had talked with the the galactic senate and we decided to have a vote of no confidence in Supervisor John. When he didn't call me within the hour, I decided to call the 800 number. Talk to the robot, get transfered a couple of times, and get myself one of those fancy little trouble tickets filed again for the seventh or eighth time. I also went ahead and since I was going to spend yet another day on this problem anyway...talked to the customer service department and basically told them that I wasn't going to pay another Uverse bill for this kind of service. I made an appointment to have my old DSL service reinstated. They asked me if I wanted to have a home phone line with that and I told them no, my verizon and sprint cell phones work just fine. They asked me if I'd like to bundle some DirecTV service with them again and I said no, I'd rather have Dish Network at this point.
I told them that basically, unfortuantely, AT&T has a monopoly in my area and they are the ONLY broadband internet provider other than HughesNet satelite service. So, given the choice between the devil or the deep blue sea, I chose the devil for that. But I'm not ever going to have any other kind of service with AT&T ever again. And the first comapny that offers real working broadband internet on my road besides them, I'll be gone from that too.
They transfer me to the Uverse department so we can coordinate the DSL service start date with a Uverse disconnection. The guy on the phone sounds so concerned about my problem, asks me if he can please call someone with thier TIER 3 tech support and see if we can just get this problem assigned to someone up there and give them a chance to resolve this issue once and for all.
I told him that I ran out of AT&T kool aid about a month ago, I no longer believe. There is no spoon, I'm a red pill now. I've freed my mind and jacked out of the matrix, Lord Vader finds my lack of faith disturbing...but sure...go ahead and we'll give that a try too. While you're at it, see if you can ship me out some ruby red slippers in size 12 wide...I'll try anything.
We sit on hold for about 10 minutes and noone answers his call. I guess they belong to that other terrorist cell, one of the cells that live above and outside the organization that don't or can't talk to anyone. Oh well, he says that he will call me just as soon as someone answers the phone over there. If we can get this fixed, just call back and cancel your appointments. I thank him as we part ways with my DSL service awaiting (re)install on September 14 and the end of my Uverse service pending the same day.
He does call back, basically tells me that the super secret high speed low drag TIER 3 tech support can't look at my issue while a service ticket is pending!!! I'm trying to control my urge to scream obcenities or burst out into laughter like a stoner who is watching the muppet show. He tells me that if the tech that is coming today doesn't solve the problem to call him back and we'll get the SUPER MEGA ULTRA TIER 3 squad on the case. I tell him thanks, but I'm not calling back anymore. It's not my job to make sure that AT&T provides me with service that works. If they can't work and communicate together behind the scenes to save a customer...then they just really don't need me paying them every month anyway.
A couple of hours later Jason comes back out, he's one of two technicians that has been to my house twice in the last two months, and he's a decent guy. I can't be mad at him, he's just a cog in the wheel...and he genuinely wants to fix my problem. The only problem with that is, that his super powers only exist on my property. Once we get out to the side of the road on the pole, he's just a mere mortal like me...at the mercy of the Legion of Doom...or the linemen and IR techs...whatever you wanna call them. Jason works hard on my problem for almost four hours. He replaced EVERYTHING IN MY HOUSE ONE MORE TIME...I mean everything too: the iNet box, the gateway, the battery backup, the DVR and TV recievers, the coax cable under the house, the splitter...EVERYTHING! He files yet another magical mystical golden ticket with the unknowing, unseen, uncaring powers that be beyond my property line. I'm filled with confidence that they will finally after two months actually fix something (not really, I'm just playing with you now...I don't even think AT&T has linemen or IR techs...it's just a clever ruse to make you feel better, like the phone number trick that John and his people do).
I got to watch about an hour of TV before I had to go out shopping with the wife. Got back home, it's frozen and locked up again. It comes, it goes...and I just really don't care any more. I hope and pray that sometime over the last two months that AT&T has not managed to Jeepers up the DSL service I used to have: the service I had since 2006 and have had to call them about maybe once a year for some kind of silly issue on. The service that ACTUALLY WORKS on my road. Please, if there is a God...I beg of you, return my DSL service to me like Moses returned your children to the promised land...Amen.
During the two months +/- on this Homers Odyssey, this trip through Dante's Inferno as it was:
- Six or Seven different technicians have come to my house
- An unknown number of linemen or IR techs have performed secret magic behind the scenes
- Three AT&T bucket trucks have been involved here: the original one that ran the line from the pole to my house on install day, and two more that ran line on my road from the state highway down past my house
- My iNet box has been replaced six (6) times
- My residential gateway has been replaced three (3) times
- My battery backup unit has been rewired once and replaced once
- The DVR and receivers in my house have been replaced once
- ALL the wiring in my house from the iNet box into the brand new jack they installed and all the TV coax cable has been replaced once
- The splitter on the the coax TV lines has been replaced twice
- Estimated amount of time spend on hold or on the phone with AT&T the past two months: maybe 8 hours or more?
- Estimated amount of work time or personal time I've lost dealing with technicians and such: at least 24 hours of my life total
- Grand total of semi-working service days in the two months of since my install: maybe three weeks and some change all together
And still, I have no reliable and consistant service...?
I post this as both a rant and a warning: AT&T sucks. Feel free to repost this, spread it like the gospel! Better yet, if you know someone who works for AT&T in a supervisory or management role, tell them to read this! Maybe they can get a laugh out of it at thier next staff meeting or stockholder/shareholders meeting or something...who knows?
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Finally got through the dl of the demo (seems a lot of people dling it right now).
First impressions: WOW !!! Great graphics and the new combat system looks to be amazing! The demo is really short and a lot of things I wish they would of allowed you to mess with are locked (including inventory). I have done one full run through as a duel wield rogue and was very impressed with how well it flowed. I started a second run through as a mage. However the game crashed and sense there is no save game option I will have to restart it. I will probably play through several more times to explore all options but I have to say I think we have a good game here.
Seems directx 11 may cause the demo some problems but their forums say the game does not have the same issue.
Source: CALL TO ARMS
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I have been a Yankees, Jets and Rangers fan for my entire life. Remove the Yankees from the equation and you can see that most of my sports-fan existence has been filled with not only failure, but epic, heartbreaking failure.
For the past five years or so, I've become much busier at work. With over 80 (for hockey) and 160 (for baseball) games played a season, hockey and baseball have become too time intensive for me to follow in any meaningful way. I can usually tell you whether my teams are doing well in the standings and who the stars are, but other than that, those sports have faded into the background of my recreational life.
That leaves football and the New York Jets. The last time the Jets played in an NFL championship game was the year I was born. I have lived through horrible seasons with dismal players and worse coaches. But that isn't what breaks my heart. I can deal with a half-decade of being a team of losers and pushovers. What kills me is the many years of having great players, solid teams and heartbreaking losses to end what should have been more successful seasons.
Losing to the Steelers in the AFC Championship game is depressing. Losing to the Steelers after beating the Colts and the Patriots in back-to-back weeks is painful. Giving up 24 points in the first half with the team looking like it just woke up from a nap is heart-breaking. The Jets slept through the first halves of most of their games this year, so it was no surprise to see them get off to a slow start. But 24 points! Really?!?! Their play was an embarrassment. Delays in play calling. Missed tackles. A running team with two very good backs throwing multiple passes from the one yardline. These are the things that made the game heartbreaking.
This wasn't the first time my team took an early trip home from the playoffs at the hands of the Steelers. In a similarly heartbreaking game, the Steelers beat the Jets in overtime in the AFC Championship game in 2004, after the Jets missed multiple field goals.
Yes, I'm happy my team has made it to the ACF Championship game three times in the last decade. But there needs to be a payoff. They need to play 60 minutes of football. They need to get their act together. Mostly, they need to stop breaking my heart.
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As mentioned here we are about to launch a podcast and we are looking for name. So which of the suggestions do you think we should go with?
The first 8 are all from the twisted mind of Delmar, 9 came from Bandoid and 10 was what I was using when test recording with some friends, they all thought the name was what we were going with and loved it so I figured I would give it a chance in the poll. Since I am hoping to record this weekend the poll closes on Friday vote soon and vote often.
Source: Podcast name