Tag Archive for idea

The World of Warcraft

It’s not often that a game really grabs me. I’d played computer games for a number of years, even hauling my PC around to other people’s houses to hook up to a co-ax ipx network to kill each other on an alien planet surrounded by monsters in DOOM. But the first game that really hooked me, that really sucked me in, was Team Fortress. It was a mod for the Quake game that expanded on the idea of deathmatch and capture the flag. Rather than give every person the same weapons, every player got a subset of them, and different health, armor and run speeds. It was capture the flag, but with real team play, because you needed the other players and classes to offset your weaknesses. I played it for 5 years.

I’d just set TF aside… the Quake version was rife with cheats and hacks, and the new version for Half-Life just wasn’t the same… and along came EverQuest. What initially drew me in was its similarity to Team Fortress. No single class was a god among mortals, they all had their strengths and weaknesses, they all had their place. People needed each other, and a great many friends came of it. I played it for 5 years.

Last year I finally closed the door on EverQuest. It had just become more of a chore than a joy. Like most people, I wish I’d quit about 6 months before I did, but then if not for those last 6 months, I wouldn’t have felt like quitting. Heh. So from EQ I went to City of Heroes. I still play. Frankly, I think I’ll always play. Never hardcore, but nothing really compares to being in your heroic spandex and wading in to a room of ten or more villains and emerging victorious by the skin of your teeth. There is a reason I read comic books for so long, and wish that I could still afford to collect. Superheroes fill a void of heroic impulse, stupidity and bravery all wrapped in one, that just can’t be filled anywhere else.

Blizzard created a world many years ago. Off and on, their Warcraft series has always held a place in my ‘frustrated distractions’ category… the games I would play when I was having an off day in my main game. The World of Warcraft, their MMO based in the same world is just… fascinating. The level of detail, the richness of color… its like a fantasy novel come to digital life. The one thing it lacks is that, for the most part, you don’t need other people… you can play solo from beginning to end. Sure you might miss some quests or dungeons, but one should never expect to explore 100% of a game world in an MMO. Heck, 5 years of EQ and I think there are still some places I never went to. But one of the things that it manages to capture so much better than EverQuest ever could, is the simple idea that while I don’t need other people, the things that can be accomplished in small groups, the way the classes compliment each other in so many varied ways… I don’t need other people, but I want other people. So here’s to the next 5 years of gaming.

Counting Blue Cars

An ongoing thread on a messageboard I frequent has brought up thoughts on religion, and mostly I just need somewhere to pour out my brain so that the words are somewhere other than in my head. As I often do, I’ve chosen here.

A long time ago, I separated from religion. Questions on the validity of the beliefs, most likely due to an increasing interest in mathematics and science, caused me to cast doubt on some of the core fundamentals of my upbringing in regards to the church. In my days I have attended a number of church, most often as a guest, but to some of them as a member of the congregation. To those that I belonged, either by my own right or by my parents, they have largely been of the protestant or reformed faiths.

After a number of years of turning my back on all things God related, I came to a realization that it was not God that I doubted or disliked, but the church. It was the organizations, the buildings of wood and stone, and the corporate like hierarchy of their ministers that were the source of my unease. It was then that I came back to God, but not the church.

Another of the major issues that I have with the established religions is in their handbook… you know, the Bible. I feel that far too many of them view the book as the written word of God, as if he inhabitted the bodies of the authors and guided their hands divinely, crafting each word, and in turn possessed the spirits of each translator throughout history to ensure that nothing was lost. And I just don’t think this is so. My personal belief is that the Bible is a collection of historical fact, oral tradition and moral tales written and bound to be used as a guide to emphasis the qualities of that which should be a “good” life. The reason I cannot believe in the Bible as being the absolute word of God is that there are things in there that actually support the idea that God doesn’t care. The Book of Job, for example. God allows Satan to kill Job’s children and their families in order to prove that Job’s faith is absolute. But what about the faith of those children? Am I to believe that God will, on a whim, decide to end my life just to test the faith of someone else? Or to end the lives of others just to test mine? Setting aside that, however, the Book of Job is a good example of maintaining ones principles through hardship, which is a good thing to teach.

The last major issue that I have with the organized religions is that none of them believe what I feel is true. The major tenet of Christianity is the Holy Trinity, the three that are one, The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. I feel that Christianity has latched onto this idea largely to avoid being a polytheistic religion and to maintain their monotheistic outlook on spirituality, to avoid Jesus worship spinning off a sect away from God worship. They force Jesus and God to be the same so that worshipping one is worshipping the other and vice versa. While I can fully grasp the idea that you could have multiple aspects of a single being be the same whole being, my problem is that if God and Jesus are the same, then the sacrifice of Jesus means nothing. If God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, and Jesus is God, then Jesus is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. The moment he “died”, he would be release from any mortal constraints and be God again. His descending into hell holds no meaning because he is omnipotent, snaps his fingers and he’s out. If, however, you believe only so far as that Jesus is the mortal son of God (with the ability to perform miracles), then the sacrifice takes on a whole new light… what Jesus says as they crucify him becomes half a conversation. God says to Jesus, and no one else can hear, “Son, I can smite them. I can wipe the earth clean and start again like I did before. I can save you this pain. Just say the word and it will be done.” To which Jesus relies aloud, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” All the sudden, Jesus’s sacrifice means everything. He gives his mortal life in order to stay God’s hand, because in us, the flawed creation of God, he sees hope, he sees the ability of us to overcome what we do in ignorance. And then, knowing that by the rules of his own universe that he created Jesus will descend into hell and he won’t be able to help, God lets his son die, and forgives us. That has weight and meaning.

In the end though, the sum of my beliefs can be found here: “I believe in God, and God believes in me, and that’s enough.” With so many religions out there with such core difference in their worship and their organization, this has to be true, because its about the only thing they all hold in common. And if its wrong, that’s alot of people going to hell because God won’t just come out and tell us the truth. Unless God enjoys people killing each other under his various pseudonyms… If I were God, that would make me angry, and I would make them stop. Just show up and say, “Hi, I’m God. These guys are half right, and these guys are about a quarter right, and those guys over there are insane, but be nice to them anyway. Now shut up and build spaceships already, I didn’t create infinity for you just to have a twinkling sky at night.”

Yesterday was a good day.

It started off like most days, I woke up at the butt-crack of dawn in order to drive to work. Oh, did I not mention? I have a new contract for ITCS, I’m working downtown for BellSouth now, full time. Anyway, so I get up, shower, dress, and head out the door. Its raining. I hate driving in the rain. People, as I have said many times, suck. Somewhere in many people’s heads they actually believe that the chance of getting in an accident is affected by the duration of being on the road… so driving twice as fast means half the time of the road equalling less accidents… *sigh* Anyway, as much as I hate driving in the rain, I achieve a certain “Road Zen”, the opposite of “Road Rage”… traffic sucks, I have accepted that I cannot change this and am at peace with the horrible traffic allowing me to listen to music and smile as opposed to making rude gestures and screaming at people.

By the time I get to work, the rain is over. I park in my usual pay lot, and start the walk to the office. Its Thursday, and as I head down 3rd Street toward Spring, I see a Creative Loafing bin. Jackpot! Open it up, snag myself a hot off the presses copy of the new Loaf. I enter the BellSouth building with a bounce in my step.

At work, I get stuff done. I learn some new programming tricks. All is well. Lunch tastes good. More work gets done. All-in-all a very satisfying day in the trenches for a contract developer like myself. 5:30 rolls around and I punch out for the day.

It hasn’t rained all day, and the reports say it should be sunny but cold all weekend. I round the corner to the parking lot and I see about 5 or 6 people standing around. One guy eyes me and says, “Is this your Cherokee?” I answer affirmatively, and he says, “The cops are already on the way.”

Now I’m worried, I double time it to the car and look it over. At first everything looks fine… no flat tires, no big dents. Then I see the vent glass on my rear driver side door, you know, the smaller window glass that doesn’t move… and its shattered. I look down the row of cars and see that all of them have the same window broken. “Anything stolen?” a woman asks me. I look in and… no. Not a single thing missing. I say so and they start saying that nothing is missing from them either. While we wait for the cops, I call my insurance company, they file the claim, connect me to their repair hotline, who connects me to a glass repair shop who schedules me for a repair the next day… $0 deductable, full coverage. So at this point the only cost to me is time. The cops show, make their report, I call the insurance company back and give them the case number for their files. Then I get on the road and head home.

The whole way home, I think about it… I’ve known people who’ve been burglarized and vandalized before. They always talk about feeling violated, unsafe. I don’t. I wasn’t there.. it likely wouldn’t have if I had been. Nothing is missing. No cost to me for the damage. Just a bit of wasted time. What I am is annoyed.. a touch angry. But why?

See.. I believe in violence, as long as it has a purpose. Frankly, violence when used with direction and guidence has solved more problems in the history of the world than anything else. I believe in war, when other options have failed. People will try to tell you that we need to try to keep everything peaceful, but the true is, world politics is like parenting… at some point you have to realize your child isn’t going to stop screaming, and you send him to his room without supper. The only difference is, its much harder to make a country controller by a dictator with an army behind him sit in his room, they fight back. There must exist that point where you are willing to accept that peace isn’t working and commit to war.

This is, and its bad that I feel I must say this, not a comment on the current situation in the Middle East… that’s a difference monster altogether, because unfortunately we ARE at war… the problem here is that we are at war with an idea, not a country. In all of History I do not believe a war has ever been successfully waged on an idea… countries, of course… cultures, sure… religions, yes… but all “ideas” of the past have been backed by a physical land mass and an identifiable group of people. What we fight in the Middle East is purely an idea… terrorism is fear, and how do you fight fear?

But I digress…

Back to my day… see, I’m annoyed because some schmuck out there walked down a row of cars, breaking a single window on each, stealing nothing. In fact, the window he broke is the most useless window to break… in almost all cars these days there is no locking mechanism on the rear door, its controlled by the front doors or automatically in some other way, and with child safety regulations, most rear doors won’t even open if they are locked and you pull on the handle. And the vent glass… its too far away to reach the lock on the front door. This guys stole nothing… he made no attempt to steal or get into any of the cars. He just broke glass. Violence without purpose. That’s what I hate.

In any event, the window is fixed now, and life goes on. People continue to suck.

In City of Heroes News…

.. the people on the official CoH Message Boards continued to discuss how cool the game is even though it doesn’t exist yet! They talk about the game disecting each frame of the admittedly damn cool gameplay movie. They roleplay. They create characters (most of them will end up bitching when someone steals their idea before they get their hands on a copy of the game). They form super teams.

Let me repeat… The game does not exist yet!

This isn’t a new thing. It’s happened with most games that have come out recently. See Dawn for an extreme case of people defending a game that will NEVER exist (I have my Beta account set up anyway so I can laugh at it properly). Mostly though, this kind of religious ferver just results in disappointment and general community divisions and hatred as people bicker and bitch about whether or not capes should be in the game.

I think the first sign of the coming apocalypse is any time two people argue about something where not only can neither of them win, but even if they could it wouldn’t matter because its not up to them to decide.

25 January 2001

Not The End
Where do I begin?
I no longer work at Norfolk Southern. I got while the gettin’ was good. And good riddance. I will certainly miss the people that I worked with, but I will not miss the work that we were doing. You can only slam your head into a brick wall so many times before people can no longer convince you that its a GOOD idea.
I don’t know what I am doing with my life, but I’m not worried.
Love doesn’t suck. Complete reversal from my last plan update, although I still want out of this city.
And I am still addicted to EverQuest.
I was asked to write again. To write anything. So this is something.
I’ll do more later. I promise.

8 March 1999

Let me start with this. Stanley Kubrick is dead. He’ll be missed. I’m going to have a screening of 2001: A Space Oddessy and A Clockwork Orange tonight. If you know where I live, feel free to drop by.
Next on the list, wisdom teeth. I had mine pulled on Friday. Egads! It hurts like nothing else. And I can’t eat. But I do have some wicked pain killers. So at least I got something out of it.
So I’m sitting at home all weekend, just watching TV, some DVDs and chatting on the PC in IRC. And my ex-girlfriend and I talk quite a bit. It’s odd I guess, but she and I seem to talk just as much as we used to. I think I like that. But then there is this other girl I’ve been kind of seeing (who might just give me hell if she reads this here) who didn’t say two words to me all weekend. It seems its always like that. I’ve been running an odd sort of experiment and I’m sad to say the result were what I expected. You see, I noticed that I was starting all our conversations. So I decided that I would wait for her to say the first words. We’ve barely spoken in over a week now.
All of this reminds me of a movie I saw, and not really the whole movie, but just one line, one idea. Which is better: to be with someone for the wrong reasons, or alone for the right ones? In my relationships, I’ve always tried to be right, to end things when I became aware I was sticking around for the wrong reasons. This girl, she just got out of one of those “love of my life” kind of relationships. And I totally understand that, I had one myself once. And I get this feeling that maybe I’m the “I just don’t want to be alone” guy. Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions. Maybe I’m reading too much into nothing. Maybe… maybe I’m not.
I was alone for 4 and 1/2 years because I needed to be, and because I didn’t want to be wrong. I don’t recommend the experience to anyone. 4 and 1/2 years without someone in your life, it’s hell, it’s even worse when you try starting over again. But my unique perspective gives me pause, and makes me wonder… did she wait long enough? did she wait at all? does she need to? Some people don’t. Some people can hop right back in the saddle like they never fell off. But… I just don’t read the situation that way.
Perhaps it’s something I should take up with her instead of typing it out here to no one in particular, and I will. I just don’t know when… when is a good time for something like this?
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Today’s Movie: Somekind of Wonderful. It’s the movie that the idea above came from. Good movie. Go see it.