Posts Tagged ‘ MMO ’

Would a Cow by Any Other Name Smell as…

eeeeeeeeeeeew. No, I don’t reccomend going around smelling cows. They’re not alltogether unpleasant, kind of earthy and musky but… ok, on topic here. I’m going to talk about names!

Many-a-time I’ve sat, staring at the character creation screen and noodling my little brain to come up with the perfect nomenclature for what will, in essence, become a representation of myself in the virtual world. This happens with most every game I play.

The Discovery of Games that were not Lode Runner or King’s Quest

I believe the first time I was ever faced with such a choice was on a frigid christmas morning. My sister and I had ravaged the presents under the christmas tree, sorted through the inevitable socks, sweaters, and pajamas, put aside large projects like legos, and were munching happily on packs of Big Red chewing gum that were always present in our stockings.

We migrated from the music room/library and into the den and, wonder of wonders! There under the tiny tree used to decorate our behemoth of a TV (you remember the kind, that had a whole cabinet built around it). Under the tiny tree were nestled a number of boxes. One was rather large for one so small as me, and the rest were rather smaller. I don’t remember how many of the smaller ones were there, but I know there were at least two.

My sister and I tore into the boxes and, from that moment onward, my future was fixed. The large box contained a Super Nintendo, our first gaming system, and the smaller boxes contained games. Among them were classic mario, The Lion King, and the all-important title, Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past.

With the help of the ever-tech-savvy dad we got the system hooked up and I slammed in Zelda. It became a ritual to me. I let the game boot up, I didn’t touch the controller, instead letting it idle and see what secrets it would tell me. Soon the story panel came up, explaining about the wise men and the old knights and the golden land. Finall I got to the character screen and it asked for my name. My name? My name was Lexi, so I put that in.

Soon after starting play, however, I felt divorced from the character. Zelda was calling to me, calling “Lexi, save me! I’m in the castle!” Even at that young age I knew a male hero and a storyline ripe for romance when I saw one, and I didn’t fancy treading down exploratory paths towards homosexuality.

So from that moment, every time I played a console game that featured a male hero (almost all the time) I named him Llano. A name similar enough to my own and yet male-sounding. Something primal inside myself was satisfied and I continued on with my merry life.

Your Massively what?

Then came the wonderful world of MMOs. I started with Guild Wars, adamantly refusing to pay money for a game then need to pay to play online. I spent long hours deciding what I’d call my character, planning which class to choose. I eventually settled on an archer and dubbed her Piper Alice. There was much symbolism with Lewis Carrol and the Pied Piper thrown in there, but she never really stuck.

I don’t remember how I found my way to the monk class. I think a friend wanted to bring up an alt and I knew enough about the game that if I was going to play a healer getting through the prologue without a buddy would be nigh impossible. So, sitting at my desk and drumming my fingers I’d look around the room. I didn’t see much to inspire me so I typed in a name I’d consistently enjoyed. Morgan. I think perhaps I’d seen Magic Knight Rayearth recently, definitely within the last year. Maybe that had something to do with her last name. I’ll never know, but she became Morgan Ascot. Healing monk extrordinaire. She had dark skin, light hair bundled in a thong swung around her shoulder. Oh yes, her armor was naught but a brah, a loincloth, and a set of full-body tattoos. Dyed white, of course.

As wonderful a game as Guild Wars is, it plays more like a Roleplay-Adventure game than an actual MMO. The gameplay and storyline were amazing and compelling, pulling me along to the end of the game, like a good book you just can’t put down. Once the story is done though, the lack of extra ‘crap’ doesn’t leave much to hold you there. Yes there were expansions, but by that time I’d fallen on some very hard times and couldn’t afford them.

Eventually, someone enticed me to give WoW a try.

He played Alliance, so of course I must play alliance as well. I had no intention of running around doing things by myself. Upon rolling up the Allinace screen I hemmed and hawed over race selection. To my eyes Alliance was just so vanilla-flavored and, well, boring! I’d played Warcraft II and III, I knew the story of the horde, and I didn’t really feel like playing as the ‘bad guys’ (the alliance). But I did anyway. The only option that didn’t leave me snoring were the Night Elves.

I chose to play a hunter and, as soon as I could, ditched my bow for a gun and moved to Dun Morogh. I believe I’ve recounted the story of my snow elf before, so I won’t go into it again here. I will say, however, that I named her Lunarshot. A combination of her heritage and her enjoyment of ballistics. It worked for me and I managed to level her up to 38 before money became tight again and she was abandoned.

I don’t know what enticed me to give WoW another try, but I did. This time, my husband and I started fresh, on a new server, and with new alligencies. I rolled a Troll Priest and named her Zudjaldi, a properly trollish name with a feminine twist. I never could stick with her though, maybe it had to do with her wobbling gait, I may never know.

I was piddling around in the character creation screen, typing in random words to see what was taken.

Eventually I typed in Coal.

I hit ‘accept’

the engine told me ‘Character Created’.

‘No way’, I thought, some dwarf hunter would’ve claimed that name long ago, but no. The name was mine, all mine. I created a dusky-furred Tauren, female, a Druid. Her name was Coal. I’d been unable to stick with any character for long so I made a promise to myself. I’d managed to procure this awesome name, I was going to stick with it and be level 60.

And so I did. I leveled Coal all the way up to level 63 in fact, earned the title of Sergent in the old-school PvP, farmed for the Embrace of the Viper set until I was too high to get any use out of it.

Eventually, of course, things being what they are my life took another turn and finances were tight. WoW is always the first thing cut. We use internet as our sole source of entertainment, eschewing cable or satellite television and renting movies if that’s what we want.

Conditions were improving and a friend was enticing me to come play with her. I would have to transfer servers, have to find a new name. I’d been Coal for so long being somebody else just didn’t feel right, but I couldn’t face the grind from 1 to 63 again. So I transfered Coal and began creating characters on the server to try and find a name.

At one point, once again heavily influenced by Lewis Carrol, her name was destined to be Gimble. I’d first tried Coal, Koal, Kohl (a favorite), but there was no such luck. It was then that my playlist cycled through to this song:

My toes started tapping, I started humming along, and soon enough I was singing,

That’s right that’s right that’s right that’s right

I really love your tiger light!

That’s neat that’s neat that’s neat that’s neat

I really love your Tiger Feet!

Your Tiger fee-heeeeeeeeet!

I tried Tigerfeet, it was accepted, and so Coal became Tigerfeet. At first it felt odd, like I was walking around in someone else’s skin. My vent ID still says Coal, though I’ve changed my phonetic to Tigerfeet. I also, for a short time, had a blood elf hunter named Tigerlight, but something about her was lacking, and she was eventually deleted.

When naming a character…

The name I choose depends greatly on the world I’ll be bringing said character into. WoW is rampant with frivolity and pop culture references. I have no problem naming my druid Tigerfeet, my mage Romaine, and my hunter Kowbelle (with a pink tallstrider named Floyd). I giggle madly whenever I play my Blood Elf Warlock, suitably dubbed Imnotgay. He still swears up and down denial is just a river in Egypt.

My Warhammer characters, however, have much more serious names. My Witch Hunter is named Moira. She’s fair skinned and red-haired, purely zealous and very irish. I love her dearly. My earthy dwarven Rune Priest I’ve dubbed Svenka. It’s a nice solid slavic name. WAR is such a gritty environment, it takes itself quite seriously that I really do not enjoy ‘funny’ names when I see them. I play on a core server though, so if it really bothers me I should move back to a roleplay server.

I played a fun little MMO for a time called Horizons. This one was fun because it allowed you to play as an actual dragon. Customization is very good and it took quite a while for the novelty of being a dragon to wear off. I set out to create the gaudiest flying lizard I could, but everyone tells me that my artistic sense of beauty won out. I’d crafted a bubblegum pink dragon with a pastel blush of cream running down her belly and her scales accented by teal freckles. Here’s a picture of her:

I named her Amarante, I believe it means shining or something to that effect. I can’t recall, but I liked the name.

One thing I have learned, weather I choose a more serious name for a darker environment or a more immersive experience, or something more light-hearted (like kowbelle), I find myself growing quite attached to my chosen nomenclature. I’m one to embrace change, but having a name is one thing that I prefer to stay constant, once it’s chosen.

That said, of course, I can’t really see myself ever going back to being ‘Coal the Druid’, Tigerfeet is just way too much fun.


How’s About Some Tiger Toes?

Latest Patch Notes over at World of Raids includes another form-change for druids!

I popped on this morning to get my daily dose of Big Bear Butts (why does that sound dirty to me?) and saw he’d posted info on a glyph for us whisker-wiggling druid types! If you don’t want to dig through the immense glut of information I’ll post the important part:

Red Lynx hmm? you mean one of these?

If it doesn’t have horns I’m not interested. But seriously, I love my horns /headbutt. I’ve seen the poler bear glyph, I’ve seen this glyph, but I haven’t seen any screenshots of the actual forms in-game. Hopefully this means that Blizzard is hard at work customizing them to each faction.

The way I see it, there’s one of two things that could happen.

1) Druids get a cornucopia of ‘new’ and tasty forms, Lynxes, Leopards, Tigers etc etc. The models are simply re-textured (maybe) ports of their more mundane Azerothian counterparts.

2) Druids get a smaller amount of new form options. Perhaps only one or two options per form, but said new forms not only have vastly superior and detailed textures, the models themselves are more customized for each race.

Now, from my experience with 3D assets I know that it’s immensely easier to re-texture an already textured model than it is to even tweak or add polygons to an already existing model and make new textures for that. Here’s a little breakdown of the modeling and texturing process (this doesn’t include rigging and skinning and animating)

– Model the polygons in 3D modeling application of choice (3D Studio Max or Maya is most common)

– Use either built-in unwrapping tool or an addon to flatten out the polygons and create a texture map. For the uninitiated, on a beastie think of a bearskin rug, everything is flat, but if you had a styrofoam bear you could put the pelt on the bear and it would be a nice 3D bear. It is the same concept with 3D art.

– In most cases a procedural texture is applied and the model is checked over to make sure there’s no unwanted deformation of the texture. (I’m not sure how careful Blizzard is about this because I find PLENTY of funky deformed textures in WoW, but that’s a tale for another day) If everything is looking honkey dory then continue on to the next step.

– Once model has been Unwrapped (technical term there) a screenshot is taken or (more common) the unwrapped Mesh is exported at a high resolution as an image file, most likely a .tiff or .png. (In my experience)

– Exported image is opened in another program (most likely Photoshop) and painted on! Paint paint paint. This step is where I love having my dual-monitor setup. I’ll have 3D Studio Max open on one screen and Photoshop on the other, it’s easy to paint a section, save out a .tif file, then hop over and take a render of the textured model so far. It’s just common sense and makes things easier in the long run.

– Once the texture is painted to everyone’s satisfaction then some magical process takes place that loads all the assets into the game and blah blah blah… (can you tell my training didn’t cover this step?)

ANYway! If all you’re doing is re-texturing an old model all you have to do is grab the old texture.psd and modify that. If you move any polygons or even add a necklace or horns or big floppy ears you’d have to go back, edit the unwrap map, export it again, and paint from scratch. New models are much more labor-intensive than new textures.

I’m still hoping for new models. If I was asked, however, I might have a hard time choosing between finally being able to have actual TIGER FEET and having a spiffy new model with my oh-so-lovely horns. I think, in the end though, I’m rooting for the horns.

Rant time Ho ha-ha!

Well, maybe not a full on rant so much as my normal rambling with a disgruntled slant.

But first it’s story time!

Way back when I was a wee little Tiger… wait, no, not that far. Back in 2004ish or thereabouts I was a bright starry-eyed wet-behind-the-ears Animation student in college. Like most liberal arts schools, a large percentage of the attending populace had no compunctions about tagging themselves as ‘gamers’. I was one of them.

Even farther back, when I was a wee little High School student I became hooked on one of my first ever computer games (barring King’s Quest and Lode Runner) Can you guess what it was? If you guessed Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness then you’d have guessed right. I played human more often than not and after the liberal application of Glittering Prizes I managed to beat the game… I think… maybe… actually I can’t remember if I ever finished it, but it was darn fun to play and, according to my parents, was less evil than Diablo II so was allowed in the house.

(I bought Diablo II and barely managed to get it installed before my parents told me to return it despite my protests that your character was fighting against the devil for the forces of light… but cest la vie)

And so, I merrily played my RTS until about college time when Warcraft III came out. I was dating a real winner at the time who wouldn’t let me buy my own copy, nor would he allow me to play on his, claiming the game was too hard for me and I wouldn’t have any fun. Me being the sweet-as-milk obedient girlfriend I was I contented myself with occupying a chair behind him and watching the pretty graphics as he spread Arthas’ teachings far and wide. I would ocassionally wander off to boot up my copy of Diablo II when the boredom became too much. (I was in college now, and no longer under parental surveilance, har har har)

Whilst in college, World of Warcraft was released. The only knowledge I had of it were haughty remarks and flippant gestures handed down from on high by an art school’s version of the ever-present Jock. You know the kind, I’m sure. They call themselves “Hardcore Gamers”. The kind of people that know more than you, are better at playing than you, and have been playing a hell of a lot longer than you no matter you’re ten years older and they think Atari is just a company that makes software.

Anyway, yes, I have a point here. I didn’t get in to World of Warcraft until much later because I was so put off by these people. I tried very hard to strike up conversations comparing various games but they would have no critique of their beloved game of choice. So, curious about what this whole MMO thing was all about I began trying other things. I pre-ordered and played in the Guild Wars Beta, tested out Star Wars Galaxies and even dabbled in the test copy of D&D Online. All were good games and all had their strong and weak points.

Finally, I decided to try WoW. It was a lot of fun. It’s very easy when leveling to just turn off your brain and go, relaxing and easy. While I have found WoW to be fun, addictive, and relaxing, I have not, however, found it to be a particurlarly brilliant, witty, or original game.

Oh noez stopp the presses I haz offended ur deliket sensubilitiez!

Oh please! Let’s be honest here, ok? I’m not going to go into a full-fledged anti-WoW rant because, frankly, I abhor hypocrates and have no desire to become one myself. I’ll say I enjoy the game, why else do I play it? But I also won’t hold it up to the light and worship the creators like they’re some gift from on high.

After a number of employees left Blizzard to found Arenanet, Blizzard has not had a track record for being either fresh or ground-breaking. The are, however, very good at looking around them, at competing games, and picking out good qualities and implementing them into their own game.

At first this infuriated me. Here I saw these jocks of the game world lauding WoW as the best and most original thing since sliced bread and all I have to do is open my eyes and look around to see that WoW is very good at copying others. I fought this fight when the WoW in-game voice chat was introduced. That nifty little feature, my friends, was pioneered by Valve and Counterstrike. Its first use in an MMO (as far as I know) was with the release of D&D Online. Shortly after the release of DDO saw the implementation of WoW in-game voice chatting.

I fought this fight down in the trenches, wailing like a banshee (the irish kind, not the Sylvannis kind) when Warhammer Online was announced. Less educated parties laughed and derided the new game, calling it World of Warhammer. I’d like to refer to this Penny Arcade comic and accompanying article on the subject to let you know my feelings. I played Warhammer Fantasy, the TABLETOP. I fielded an army of Lizardmen the likes of which had only been seen in the vaunted Games Workshop display cases. When my two Stegadons thundered onto the field and charged through my rank upon ranks of Saurus warriors all backed up by the chillingly blank stare of the Venerable Lord Kroak… the world trembled. Oh yes, did it tremble. I loved Warhammer Fantasy, I loved the lore (in warhammer, it’s called fluff) I loved the rules, and I loved the models and the painting. I had also done a research paper my first year in college about Warhammer and Mage Knight, comparing the two games and which was a more worthwhile money and time sink. So when the accusations began to fly about how Mythic was stealing all their ideas from Blizzard I was ready. Ooooh yes I was ready with months of research, publish dates, and copyright information. Games Workshop was alive and kicking before Blizzard was even a glimmer in Michael Morhaime‘s eye. Blizzard was founded in 1991. Games Workshop was founded in 1975, I rest my case.

The point I’m trying to make here, is that when I logged on last night and saw the information on the new Wrath of the Lich King’s Player Achievements… that old flame to fight was reignited. Why, you ask? Well, simply because Blizzard is doing what Blizzard has done best, taking some of the most successful aspects of Other Games and assimilating them. HA! I just made a Borg pun, lookit me lulz!

I think I’ll stop here. I’m going to concede. While Blizzard’s lack of innovation saddens me, I know such paltry things as facts will do nothing to sway hard-core fanatics and, at the end of the day, practices like this is really just good business.

So, tonight, I’m going to go home, boot up WoW, and run Karazhan with only a small twinge on my conscience marring my simple enjoyment of the game.