Tag Archive for front

Identity

My pleading had finally been answered and a 1200 baud modem had been purchased. I sat in front of the computer, the card was installed and the software was waiting. There was a copy of MicroCenter’s weekly ad in my lap, and on the back page the list of BBSs had a few circled. I dialed up a place called Safehaven and created a new account. In the earliest of days, I was Jason Blood (though sometimes I was Etrigan). When I moved away from dialing up BBSs and instead calling up my ISP, I became Logan5.  In 1999, I logged into EverQuest for the first time, and while I played around with a few names, I settled on Ishiro (later Ishiro Takagi). These days on Xbox and in a number of other places, you’ll find me as Jhaer (the “h” is pronounced, so it sounds like “hard” but without the “d” and with a “j” sound crammed on the front of it, one syllable).

In each form, I was always me, though I’ll admit to a bit (or a lot) of role play under various guises. But in 1998 I started putting my thoughts on the Internet, and while I was deep into Logan5 (though sometimes J) at the time, I decided to post as simply “Jason” (though often as “jason” – I used to have a long diatribe on why the lack of capitalization mattered, but for the life of me I can’t remember any of it except something about the importance of the self over the collective… yeah, like most kids in college, I went through one of those “I know everything better than everyone” phases too). As part of this, over the years, my social circles have all known about my interests, and I’ve never kept them from my employers. In fact, there are a couple of jobs over the years that I didn’t take and plenty more that probably didn’t bother to make me offers based entirely on their apparent stance on games as a frivolous hobby. So when it came time to enter a social network, like Friendster or MySpace or Facebook, it never occurred to me to not use my “real” name. I am me. Even when I wear another name.

Back in June of last year, there was a kerfuffle surrounding Blizzard’s new Real ID. It was totally and completely out-of-place there, and to this day I’ve only linked my Real ID with maybe five other people (my wife, my best friend, my best friend’s wife, and two other long time “real life” friends). This year, both Facebook and Google+ have taken a much firmer stance on real names, going so far as to ban accounts that don’t use real names.

Now, personally, for myself, I could not care any less. I use my real name on the Internet, and I deter identity theft by maintaining an identity not worth stealing (though if you wish to steal my identity and then pay off my debts, feel free). However, I do understand that some people want to maintain two identities. Even I did at the beginning. In the BBS days I was extremely protective of who I was, if only because in my real life I was kind of a dorky nerd (this was junior high and high school). It wasn’t until I was in the 11th grade that I broke down that wall and actually started meeting the people I’d only known online face-to-face.

— as a brief aside, let me take a moment to let that sink in and allow you to realize how different the world of 1989 is from today. I was a 15-year-old boy whose parents let him, actually encouraged him, to go meet complete strangers he’d met on the Internet. —

And I don’t mean to denigrate people who maintain multiple identities as something I’ve outgrown. My online journey after the age of 15 simply didn’t have much separation. The bulk of my friends we the people I met online, and we took those online friendships offline whenever possible with outings to movies, parties, etc. It was a conscious decision on my part.

Anyway… Facebook and Google+ have been taking a fairly hard-line on all of this, and while they manage social networks, I don’t feel like this is an area they should be so adamant about. Occasionally, the use of real names on the Internet will temper what people say, but not often. Despite posting with a real name, plenty of people are going to continue to be asshats simply because, real names or not, they just don’t consider the feelings of the people on the other side of the screen. Honestly, they are in the business of providing traffic and demographic data. As free services to us, the users, we aren’t the customer, we are the product. Should they care if I’m on their site socializing with the people from work or socializing with people who play a common game with me? I don’t think they should. They should only care that I’m on the site, and into which column they can put me down for selling my eyeballs for ads.

All this was brought on because I saw that Tobold got banned from Facebook. It’s a shame, because he was one of the few people who played games there and actually participated. With him gone, all my games just got harder and I’m less likely to play them. See… that’s the deal with a social networks: ripples.

I didn’t shoot you…

… you walked in front of me while I was shooting the bad guys, dumbass.

One thing playing Red Dead Redemption has shown me over the past couple of weeks is that some people simply refuse to learn how to play with other people.  It isn’t hard.  First off, if you are going to group with people in a posse, then how about you get out of your private chat with your buddy who isn’t playing this game so we can actually communicate.  Second, if I get there first and go in first, I’m first, until I’m dead.  When I die, you can be first.  So, until I bite the big one, how about you stop running in front of me?  Am I moving too slow?  How about you tell me that and say, “I’m taking lead.”  Of course, you’d need to be talking to me first.

Next, when I kill you because you are a dumbass who stepped in front of me, coming back and knifing me, and then shooting me, and then shooting me again, and then finding me and shooting me again, and then waiting until I get into a room and blowing me up with dynamite is not “making it fair.”  It was your damn fault you got killed, killing me 47 times and slowing us down isn’t going to cure your stupidity.  We are in a posse, doing this hideout together, quit being a tool and start killing the bad guys.

And when I get fed up, switch to the sniper rifle and sit at a safe distance killing everything so that you don’t get killed, don’t yell at me.  Don’t tell me I need to come in.  See the scoreboard at the end?  I got 47 kills and 29 head shots.  You got 6 kills.  All my deaths?  That’s you killing me.  Your deaths?  That’s you stepping in front of me and also repeatedly charging into the fort.  There are like twenty five guys in there.  How about you stay back here and help me kill them instead of charging in.

When I quit your posse, don’t give me a bad review.

Sigh.

Storm Front

The Sci-Fi Channel series The Dresden Files piqued my interest, so I picked up the first couple of books in the series by Jim Butcher and read Storm Front, the first one.

I love the TV show. Its fun, sometimes funny, with a bit of magic and darkness. The book is about the same, though as always with works taken from page to screen (big or small), it is only “about” the same. There are differences, but not so much so that it hurts either.

If you don’t know what The Dresden Files is, its about a man named Harry Dresden and he is a wizard. This isn’t your Harry Potter type wizardry, it is definitely not aimed at kids. Dresden lives in a world where magic exists, but its sort of a secret. Not the magic itself, but the White Council that presides over it all and tries to keep people from using the darker magics. Harry comes from a powerful line of wizards, all of whom are dead. From the show we know that Harry’s dad was killed by his uncle, and that Harry ultimately killed his uncle (in self defence). None of that is in this first book, not clearly anyway. There are hints that his family line might not be the cleanest around, and there is a judgement for murder against him currently held in check. Harry even narrates that he killed a man with black magic and that is why he is reluctant to tread in those waters again.

As it stands, Harry consults for the police as a “psychic” on weird cases as well as doing his own brand of private eye work. The book almost drips with old noir style storytelling, and in part that is what makes it so good. There is evil in the world, and if good is going to win its only going to do so by the skin of its teeth and by the barest of threads, and never emerge unscathed.

With the first book down, I’m really looking forward to the rest of the series, so I whole-heartedly recommend Storm Front. Of course, I don’t like to read series books back to back, so number two of The Dresden Files will have to wait until I’m done with the new Hellboy book.

Personal Space in Games

In MMORPGs, one of the decisions that gets made in their design is whether or not to give player characters personal space, or as I usually call it a “bounding box”.

EverQuest had a bounding box. Two people could not pass directly through one another. This caused issues when popular NPCs, like bankers, would get mobbed by players resulting in people who could not get close enough to interact. And sometimes this caused huge uproars when it came to doorways and other tight spaces. It was not uncommon to see an ogre in the Plane of Knowledge sitting in the bank doorway being an ass and demanding to be paid to move. It had other uses too, on my server there was at least one incident of using an orge to block a passage way into raid content, denying competition to a second group to a raced spawn.

Of course, going with no bounding box at all can cause just as much issue. In World of Warcraft players have no personal space. This is great when it comes to the auction house because there will commonly be fifty people trying to crowd around the one NPC. The drawback comes in PvP combat. A spell caster has to keep his target in his field of view to cast, so in order to interrupt casting all a melee player needs to do is run right up, step through the caster, then step back. In about a second the target goes from being in front, to 180 degrees behind, back to front again. Even with good reflexes and high speed mouse control, its very hard not to lose the spell cast, and for a melee player with a slow two handed weapon he won’t even miss a swing while he two-steps the caster’s blast into interruption.

What I would suggest is that instead of strictly making the bounding box a property of the character object, also make it modifiable by the surroundings. Make it so that in a defined area, around an NPC or doorways to buildings or narrow hallways in dungeons, the player becomes “intangible” and other players can pass right through them, and while not in those areas, players have a seeming mass and cannot be stepped through.

And with this, I kick off my section “The Game That Never Was“, which is going to be a collection of ideas that I have about what would make the perfect MMORPG.

Intrepid Reporter, Calvin Meeks…

I started a little project for myself. For one, to get into City of Heroes a bit more. Two, to get to know the community a bit. And three, to do some writing.

Its called the Front Page.

I created a character named Calvin Meeks, who is not a hero at all, but one of those reporters who always gets mixed up in trouble.

So far so good. I’ve met a few folks, and even had a couple of offers for doing stories (tagging along for exp and such, while taking notes and photos).

I’m really enjoying it.