Grüß Gott Adventurers! Happy Oktoberquest! The annual celebration of FOMO :)

Ah, the Realms has looked festive with avatars of all sorts prancing about in Dirndl and Lederhosen, looking all over to get their hands on some hot, steamy sausage.

In case you missed it, the two are linked…. (case … linked … waka waka!)  If you gather your sausages in your Oktoberquest themed Dragonhide Breastplate or Godskull Shinguards you only have to gather 6, which qualifies you for the secret bonus.  The super secret that Zist cooked up after people complained about HAVING to wear the quest themed gear … well, now you don’t HAVE to … but there’s 5 points a day if you do.  Incentivize the behaviour you want to see.

About a week into this quest we had a blow up, Zist and I.  I’m sharing this because in the aftermath, I realized that once again Zist has poured a ton of time into creating this quest and continued working on it when it was live so that it would be a fun experience and the reward for his hard work is a lot of complaints and gripes.  I think there’s something to be learned on both sides but I’m going to start the conversation on his side.

He told me he started working on the quest in late July.  In order to pull it off there are several thousands of lines of programs written in the SMAUG language.  Having worked in it a bit, I can tell you, the word fussy doesn’t start to do it justice.  Now … that’s normal programs, but things like trying to make a wall clock 10 second delay, as opposed to just saying “meh, 3 ticks whatever that works out to, about 9 seconds” to make Marius very predictable on timeouts … I’m not even sure where you start on that.

I’m looking at this year’s design and I see that Zist took the feedback from last year’s quest quite seriously.  Last year’s quest was insanely time consuming both for Zist and for questers.  The goal of making it very accessible to people in different time zones led to people trying to be available at EVERY point opportunity.  Simply saying you could only try 2 a day or something like that might have worked, but again, gripes if you do.  Lots of people scripted the entire thing.  Triggers were written to allow people to run their characters like bots.  Before the big reveal that the mobs could be shared with more than 5 people and that you could farm off everyone and share with everyone, the quest was getting quite nasty as different groups tried to maximize their team’s earnings – paying people gold to share was frowned on but at least you could see the logic in it, after all, you could always offer more … but some of the comments directed at people actually caused some people to just log off and not come back.

To avoid that there’s a fixed rotation of things to go do, once you’ve accomplished your bit for the day, you’re done.  There’s still things to figure out, but it’s very much an individual effort with some communication.  Big problem that Zist faces is … how to spread the points out in a way that people can “win” and yet have it so that people can potentially catch up/swap positions/have some “action”.  Well really, it comes down to the Keg smashing tapping that is pretty much RNG … getting 4 reliably is fairly doable, getting 6 is riskier, and Bill.  F@$%ing Bill.  Now I’ve been a fan of solo mob kills … Brutus, Jimmy Da Fence, the Falcon … I enjoy those challenges, but Bill is certainly not killable by all classes despite assertions to the contrary.  My shieldbash would need a large jump up (yes, a paladin this quest, as I continue the hunt for prestige) before the 20 or 25 point Bill would be doable.  Like others I have lost lots of points trying to kill the stronger Bills wondering if typing “kill bill” was the insane healing trigger, or if using quaff heal instead of q heal, or if it was the potion chest or or orrororororoorororor…. before learning that to weaken him depended on how many miniquests you’ve done that day, and then again trying to move up 1 level from 10 point Bill to 15.  1 attempt per day for a major chunk of the points has not left much room for error … and my error was choosing Paladin.  The winner of this round is apparently Infernalist in the great crap shoot.  Yes, there’s a guy on top of the points scale that might disagree, but I don’t think Incendi has to be involved with Operation Move-The-Potion-Store-To-Bill’s-Room every day.   Disappointing because lots of effort going in, and doing a lot of the right things and knee capped by the class choice.

Yet in the hopes that Zist will do tiers of prizes, as the 25th anniversary quest was done, just keep plugging away, do your best, and hope he calibrated his score system so that it doesn’t expect you to do damn-near-heal-to-full-every-round Bill.

So the blow up… Marius got new dance moves part way though a day.  Zist’s side: hey man it’s getting late, I held off and I’m tired.  My side: yeah but lots of people have already got points today on easy Marius and I get effed up because of this change.  Already falling behind because of Bill, eff this!  There was lots more to it like an arms race on how many triggers I could write and how annoying he could make the programs.  For the record, no one wins in an arms race.  Did I write one trigger for each social?  Nope.  I wrote 3 triggers to get my character to do every social, another to detect the output message and a third trigger to write the triggers for me.  I can see this as frustrating for Zist, he works on this stuff and we just script it because we view it as annoying, an obstacle to the points and prizes.  Guess what, that’s how we view levelling, golding, farming apples, brewing potions, buying and selling gear, fighting Seth … and we respond with scripts and it works because the scripting languages are more expressive than the mud’s language and our computer only has to deal with 1 person … where the mud has to be responsive to everyone online.

I asked then if Joe had already locked in his win… here 2 days from the end I see it’s not far from being a true prediction.  Good for Joe, no sour grapes, no gripes, but there was never a hope of “competing”.  Which takes me back to FOMO.  WHY does this stuff get under my skin?  I know I’m not alone but I’ll just talk from my own experience.  Well that fear of missing out.  In a lot of contexts around Realms FOMO is just part of it.  You’re not part of the right group to get into the right runs, so go gold and when someone feels the time is right to auction gear, you can get upgrades.  You know you’re missing out.  Oktoberquest, and other long quests, have presented an opportunity for people to complete the Guardian set, arguably better than the drow set or the glory for a month long quest.  I don’t even think about the aff flying ankles and stuff like that, I’ve been near the top but I know my life is too busy to pour the time into really mastering a quest to get there.  So those opportunities are things to look forward to.  When they feel like they’re disappearing it’s a kick in the ass where you hoped to improve your character.  Yet it really doesn’t matter.  It’s text on a screen that one day won’t matter at all.  Well … it’s nice to compete and to be thought of as being competitive.  To be held in esteem by your peers for playing well.  It might be virtual reputations but within the community that helps open some of those doors the year round.

For Zist, I’m sorry that I, and others, give you so much grief and not enough appreciation for the hard work you do designing and administering the quests.  We look forward to them and they do stimulate activity in our shared fantasy escape.  Thank you for taking the feedback into account, not just of this one ranger’s gripes, but of the entire community.  If we didn’t care we’d just log out and pull the plug and never look back – in some strange way our complaints show you we care, not just about the one line of text loot at the end of it but also for how we get there.

25 years of Realms of Despair

Happy silver anniversary Realms of Despair!

25 years is an amazing amount of time, especially to those of us not yet resigned to our actual ages. I was in my early 20’s when I started playing … and now I’m not, can you relate? No? Go to bed you whippersnapper!

I can remember this game in an era where I had just graduated from predominantly single line, turn based, multiplayer games on BBSes.  Coming online and seeing 300-500 characters online was amazing.  Today the numbers are a long way down, and there’s probably more people bidding on some of the auctions we look at in those last crucial 10 seconds, but the game is still alive and well.  By and large it’s stable and people continue to contribute to it regularly.

One of those contributions was the Silver Anniversary Quest hosted by Zistrosk that concluded with the end of August.  This post has been on the back burner for a while, but his gentle nudging has finally got me typing it tonight.

I enjoyed the quest.  Unlike Oktoberquest 2018 there was no sniping at one another.  There were definitely groups working together, groups that kept their lists quiet, but that’s normal competition.  I enjoyed working with the people I did both in and out of the Order of Ringbearers.  Lots of people were definitely hustling to do everything they could, Myrr, Joe, Incdeni and many others were spotted running around the Realms in the great hustle.  My very slow prestige leveling paid off when I was able to retrieve some items from Ezard’s Fields, Sentinel, Gauntlet, and elsewhere.  Aside from killing some mobs I’d never killed before I made a new character of each class and finally made a list of the Sunless Sea area items, explored every hometown, visited every single deity I could, no Grishnakh or Tempus upgraded sigils though and mapped my way though the Badlands getting my first gryphon lantern, a neat item that gets even cooler when you wear it on pk character.

For more information see the RodPedia entry for the Anniversary Quest

In closing a thank you to Zistrosk and Stoneheft for their work on this particular quest, but also to all the immortals, leaders, firsts, seconds, avatars, pre-avs who didn’t make it who have walked the Realms.  For 25 years the lights have been on.  Whatever our goals as players I think we feel some investment in this game and community.  It is a place like no other where you have so much input into the game.  If we want the lights to stay on find some way to chip in and help out.  Say thanks to your favourite hard worker.  And thank you for being there along with me on this journey against the random number generator.

edmond openly traffics: triggers anyone?

I saw this today while an auction was taking place for Realms’ hottest commodity, a multi-class ticket to ride.

The auction was being quickly bid up with strange numbers when edmond made his comment and I thought it rather ironic.

You see … the gold to buy the tickets is probably farmed with golding bots, the characters the tickets are being used on are probably being leveled by leveling scripts … but this is where a comment is worthy?

Scripts were designed to eliminate being bored to tears while doing the grindy parts of the game. Slowing the XP gain to a crawl has only clogged up the most popular leveling areas with prestige characters grinding away using their triggers to avoid feeling any more of the pain than necessary.

Spoof ips to vote for Realms multiple times, script golding and leveling but for heaven’s sake, bid on the tickets manually. :thumbsup:

Game of Despair, Realms of Thrones

If you haven’t started season 8 of HBO’s Game of Thrones, minor spoilers follow.

Jon Snow has at long last been reunited with his sister Arya, along with most of the other characters of the series who are alive, reuniting at Winterfell. The series has been structured around several strong, central locations like Winterfell, the Red Keep, and so on. As the series has progressed the locations have evolved and the nature of them changed. Right now you’re probably picturing the Starks at Winterfell, the last great fortress of the north, yet, just a short time ago it was the home of the Boltons. Same place, different feel.

At the same time there has been a surge of interest in fantasy games, material, fan literature, maps, and so on. Yet true new usership of the Realms seems elusive. It is undoubtedly only going to appeal to a fringe audience. In the era of readily available games with flashy graphics and sound, almost disposable in their nature – play for a while, win the game, chuck it and back to the app store, to state the obvious – Realms is a very different creature. Yet it does attract a certain type of user, and I would argue holds a great deal of entertainment value.

Persistent area building over the last 25 years has created a rich play environment with many different puzzles to be solved and despite the publishing of many tricks and walk throughs on RodPedia there are still many, many things to learn and a great deal of value in figuring it out yourself.
I wander the Realms mapping and trying to solve the Glass Menagarie puzzles, among other things. People like Sylphain dive deeply into a single area even trying to understand the connections in the way a builder crafts puzzles to discover yet unsolved mysteries in old areas. Some only care about getting new, more buff items and so their interest is in finding their way through the Southern Mountain Range Trade Route into the EisenCastle or fiddling with the altar in Winterlight beyond Bridgette for a daily trip into the abyss to grind for the elusive pop items.

Is this the end game? Waiting for glory quests for an incremental game or playing the RNG slot machine for increasingly rare gains? Chasing increasingly obscure esoteric knowledge?

Some time ago I talked with Belkira about the idea of expanding housing into user kingdoms. It was only a very rough idea, the broad strokes were that players would be allowed to add more vnums to their houses outside of the protected inner sanctum of the 5 rooms we currently enjoy. These public rooms could be invaded and played by others. The player could gain an income from their area but would need to spend some of it to hire guard mobs to protect it. Alternately the player’s area might simply be a place to ambush players, lots of thief mobs that steal from you, brigands, but then that might drive a bounty system where the players are motivated to come attack the mobs.

In this sort of system simply having everything cost gold would only increase the strain on golding areas but arming your soldiers by attracting blacksmiths and giving them thievesblades and shieldbreakers, doomgivers and kings crested swords … being careful to make the system support a very wide base of low-mid range gear to encourage people to revisit the old content… or maybe this just feeds grinding.

Watching people gold on PK chars lately in Coral Depths and seeing no one log in to attack them really demonstrates part of the problem, not only with golding but with PK. Sorry PKers, but it seems that PK is essentially a group of cheese tricks and buff gear to win instead of a real matching of wits between two players. I may be missing the nuance to it, I don’t PK, and no amount of cool skills or buff gear will ever attract me to it. Knowing that when I hit level 15 or so Joe is going to come kill me with his already prepared “level 15 killer” or that if I get to av the Arcanes crew will log to gang bang me doesn’t excite me. The pk-tag requirement on gear means you can’t be pk-casual. Yet at some level it is precisely the interpersonal competition that the PF “end game” seems to be trying to replicate. It’s not pk’s fault, the Realms combat system is inherently boring. Once you see the formulas, even in an interpreted, obscure way, you lose the fun.

As we have been drifting along missing the surge of interest in the fantasy genre during the promotion of Game of Thrones season 8 I ask, why? Lack of retention of new players and of the interest of older players. Older players can solo a lot of the stuff new players need and so there’s no incentive to be helpful yet if you make everything need 3 players people go back to the sitting at recall chatting “I’m bored, who wants to do stuff” days.

First and foremost is retention of new players. The Realms web client is a right minded step I believe. CMud is unsupported. Mush Client is a little too complex for the average user I think. None of them really integrate what a modern HTML5 web browser can do with ease. Unfortunately requests to access the appliance that goes between the Realms Website and the Telnet back end were denied. Anyone interested in doing development on features or creating their own client is shut out. So … no community building with diverse implementations to choose from. I can see some technical reasons for this based on how the Realms of Despair works, but we have reached the point where a person using a TOR browser could spoof IPs limitlessly. We need a better mechanism than IP checks to limit farming.

I had suggested account level tagging of gear. The motivation was to allow you to share your own gear among your own characters. Character tagging is a pain. If I level a new character I have to replay content solely for the “I need this item”, even if I’ve done it many times before. Why do I have to level new characters? It’s still the easiest way to improve stats, even in a post reroll 95 stat environment vs the old 102 based stat environment. Sect tags? Use the family name that is already available? Yes you want to allow players to add characters without this being totally abusable, what about 5 glory to add/remove someone from your family? Sure some might bite the bullet and pay it to exploit something, but at least we can start talking about it.

I had suggested we get away from the idea of strongly classed characters and instead move towards a holistic one character approach where people really deeply invest in developing the adventurer. No one wanted to even think about it yet I hear that edmond is putting some effort in that direction. For those wondering if we’ll lose the unique character classes Realms has, I’ll say we don’t have unique character classes or races in Realms. Everything is derivative of somewhere else whether it’s Vampire:The Masquerade or Dungeons and Dragons … it’s ongoing. Dragonborn are a 5th edition D&D race, variations of Draconians from DragonLance or even the basic idea of lizardmen. Nephandi? White wolf – Vampire the Masquerade people. The augurer and the fathomer might be fairly unique interpretations but they’re relegated to the sidelines. There’s been some other attempts at unique interpretations like the Kinux flavour of Barbarians or what I recall of the Julie and Moonbeam style witch class … but how do these things add flavour to our game? Everything is determined still by “what can I kill with this” and “what advantage does this give me”. Why are barbs half-orc? Olsen ears… why were thieves half-troll/ogre for so long? Froggy girth and res pierce. Big clumsy races as the basis for most of the highest dexterity characters.

Many organizations are so starved for activity that there is a feeding frenzy on a new player. I have witnessed this over the last few years, even to the point of chatting with new players who were quitting because they overheard organization leaders saying that they didn’t care about the n00bs as long as they could quaff and circle. Yet that org was vaacuming up every new player, dressing their characters in decent gear because of that heavy golding I was talking about, and moving someone only a few months into the game into the “end game” mentality .. this or that area isn’t worth looking at because there’s no big run mob there, or this or that isn’t worth doing because it’s hard, just gold and buy it. I commented on some of this during Oktoberquest where we had some groups that were forming and helping one another yet certain groups were more interested in promoting divisiveness in order to win the quest because the top 3 get the best prize.

If this continues we will have no one left to play with.

The second part is retention or re-attraction of old players. I think that removing autodelete for avatar characters is one thing that’s long overdue. Drive space is not at a premium and if certain Realms functions are horribly inefficient under large number of pfiles then they are long overdue for fixing. I was led to believe some of that had been moved to databases – in that case it shouldn’t be an issue at all. Modern computer science has long since solved these problems and even without moving to an object oriented C++ environment SMAUG should be able to handle these ideas in code. The evidence is on the Realms Facebook page – player after player modestly interested in returning but not excited about recreating their army.

Next is the idea of giving someone the ability to log in and do something other than grind a new character. At some point if you’ve played long enough you’ve got 4 of everything you want, or more, even people trying to trade Seth pops have a hard time – 25 years of farming the mob has taken its toll. Must be why some groups impose a no-public-trading rule on certain runs… break it and you get thrown off the run.

Orders and guilds are supposed to bring together people so they can get to know each other and work together. How many people would be logging into Inconnu or Dragonslayer daily if it wasn’t for the Vreesar run? What happens when everyone has their 9dr gloves? Do we need the next big thing? The efforts to go over current areas and add new content seems to fit with feeding this desire for new content. Whether it’s for actual gains or like the moldy pillow just for quality of life, this still has a shelf life, especially when the new items obsolete some other content. There was a renewed interest in La Chute with the new robes and rings, and what happened? Feeding frenzy then return to status quo.

Even with the unique recalls of these organizations we have failed to create a sense of uniqueness. Why can’t I have my character recall to Thul when I cast word of recall? Why isn’t that his “home”? I’m not suggesting everyone should just pick anywhere but the fixation with Darkhaven Square and Thoth’s rune suggests this tiny piece of the game is somehow key to everything and yet the content of the game does nothing to support it. After 20+ years of butchering the guards not a single thing has ever been remembered past a few repops.

I think user driven kingdoms that had persistence could change that. I think it’s a possible end game. I think that if a player doesn’t maintain it by playing regularly that it should deteriorate and become a ruin. A player returning can clean it up and resume – they pay a penalty for being away – but they don’t have to start anew. Think of Harrenhall – it’s a ruin but the Lannisters returned it to function and it still had value.

Perhaps nations and role play wanted to develop the rich stories of 25 years of game running. I think this has to be embraced not just as an exercise of the imagination and fan stories, but within the game itself. Regular areas can’t really do this – the idea of a dynamic, evolving story within an area is necessarily finite and though it can be quite possible it would be a massive undertaking. Would players respond well to an area where the actions of the last group through affected them? If you killed Dr. Frankenstein then the Frankenstein monster can never be spawned? What might the loot look like since right now we have the notion of repop so ingrained in us that we think everyone that goes on the run should eventually get a payout by grinding?

I don’t know, but what if the end game was more story and less grind? That you felt part of a world where your actions had impact instead of being continuously and consciously aware that a random number keeps you repeating the same farm over and over? I don’t know either, but it sounds like more fun.

This has been a diverse group of gripes that has been building for some time. It’s far rantier than I really set out to do. I think there are lots of creative ways to continue to enjoy the game for years to come, but I think it requires effort and openness. Some days it seems like it would be much easier to fire up the code environment and start from scratch but that’s giving up on 25 years of continuous game play and the rich history we have.

Trick or Treat! Happy November

Ahhh November 06 after reboot. For us pumpkin chasers and killers of Jerry it’s a calm, relaxing time. Not so much for Zistrosk and the quest to deliver the prizes.

I want to start today’s blog off by thanking him for his efforts on Oktoberquest 2018, as he put it, “it’s like a third job”. I know many of us felt like it was a part time job, constantly checking in on the pumpkins, coordinating our groups and on and on.

In the last blog I talked about some of the tricks people were using to get ahead, and I’d love to report that post-blogging things cleaned right up but alas, when the competitive spirit is in the air you can be sure that there will be people who will push every lever to try to get ahead.  I’m not here to talk about that right now, I’m here to talk about the Trick that Zistrosk pulled on us.  As the quest started to wind down some people figured out they could give away more than 5 helper points a day.  It’s believed that Inconnu figured this out first, but we know that Mossweaver tripped over it by accidentally sharing his Jerry mob with more than 1 group in a single day.  Do you know what that means?  All the gold, all the trash talk, all of it was a waste of time and effort.  It also made for a crazy last day where a room full of people banded together to swap points off each other.  Even if you didn’t want to really work with some people, you had to be there to make sure you didn’t fall behind.  After averaging 30-35 points a day to suddenly jump to 50 at a time when the next guy down is 60-80 points behind you?

Now certainly, if we had all just gotten along and all 67 questers had traded points evenly, then we’d all be bunched up in 1st place, so that wouldn’t work.  There would be groups that would decide only to trade internally, or to restrict some people so that they had an edge, but there would be less incentive.  Getting a good rapport with people and having them want to help you would mean more opportunities to trade points regularly.

Zistrosk … you bugger … you put a moral in the story!

He made good with the treats though.  Most questers got some glory, 20+ seeming to be very common and 2 immortality potions in a jack o’lantern container.  The next group up also received a piece of the drow equipment set, either the bracer or the earring.  The next group up also received a piece of the Guardian’s Exigency.  Finally, the very top tier people got a nifty anklet with 15 ac and aff protect on it.  The top 10 were all over 1,000 points.  To put that in perspective, 31 days of doing your 1-6 and taking your 21 points would be mean 651 points.  The rest were either 1 at a time, or in bursts of 10 for a kill blow.  My 14 pumpkin kills gave me 140 points which meant hundreds of helper points, 1 by 1.  The top 20 all managed to be above the 651 marker, with #20 coming in at 746.  Towards the bottom of the pack we do see people who game in for 1 or 2 days and then didn’t reappear.  Thanks for helping and visiting.  Come back soon 🙂

Let’s talk about some of the positive things I saw during this quest.

  • As the need for more bodies to share Jerry points grew I saw people in several organizations reaching out to older players and getting them to log in.  Getting people back and logged in is fantastic.  Some might have left because of a specific thing that was going on at a time, something that’s long gone, and they have a chance to check it back out.
  • I saw a real outreach to the solo questers to get them to be part of a team and band together.  Yes, in some cases this will prove superficial, but in many others we’ve broken the ice.  The newer players got to work with some experienced players and now feel comfortable asking for help or engaging in conversation.
  • I saw a ton of cross order co-operation between groups that aren’t traditionally working together.  That’s not to say one group locked to another – at one point Arcanes was working with Dragonslayer and other times with Ringbearers.  Baali’s active members were well represented and competitive, even spotted an Ascendere or two, though one looked like a Guild of Origin character (teasing Bri!!).

Personally I got to chat with a few people who I don’t know that we’d regularly chat.  People like Indious and Semiramia and Merit.

There were definitely caches of people who were playing hard but clean and I really appreciated that.  When I started using Quantum Spike scrolls on Pumpkin Day because the mob tank switching was nerfing circle at DYING some people’s initial reaction was “cheese” or “trying too hard”.  Fair enough.  I disagree, you’ve gotta hit hard at the end and it still takes luck, but ok.  A short time later many were doing it.  Cool.  To me though, the person who took that idea and innovated was Semiramia who switched to Quill mage so that she could recite spellbooks that cast 3 quantum spikes at a time.  She stepped up and proved mages can get kbs on quest mobs.  My hat is off.

I finished in the top 10, tied for the 2nd most kill blows on the pumpkins with 2 others.  Dang it Sartanis, you got the 15th one!  I’m pleased with that finish.  More important than the finish though is that I’m glad I was part of a group that coalesced almost out of nothing and managed to challenge an contend in this quest.  Good quest to Sartanis, Jethren, Morphina, Klaatu, Strador, Netherwood, Aisic, Brianey, Emrakuja, Ceir, and the many others we worked with.  Today some of that group went an chilled out at Corsterix for a while, got some Nasrs and helped a couple new players with gear.  That’s the big prize.  For those already in working teams, tend your garden.  It takes work to keep teams engaged, and lots of engaged teams fall apart.  I hope all of our groups stay busy over the next while, busy groups are good for the Realms as a whole.

I offered Zistrosk the final word on today’s blog, he earned it:

Zistrosk tells you ‘I loved how everyone came together and helped each other, and it was great to see so much activity.  More questors signed up for this quest and actively participated than any quest I’ve ever run before, which was totally awesome.  I hope next year’s quest is as popular, and not as exhausting!’

 

Oktoberquest 2018 Part Deux!

Well we’re getting into the home stretch!

Same old, same old fatigue is setting in and the leaderboard is very tight despite weeks of questing.

The competition is really tight and I’ve found it is not bringing out the best in us, or in me. One group has been paying people upwards of 50m coins/day to take them out to the player’s helper point fights. When 1 member of that group is invited they show up with a crowd hoping to be asked to join in the hopes of turning the 5 guaranteed available points into a lottery. They’re sending tells to anyone they see who is on the quest to solicit those helper points.

Ok, so yeah. There’s definitely a legit way to view the behavior I think: doing everything they can to aggressively try to get their team in the top 10. Competing as hard as they can.  I’m not sure I like their style, but ok.  In some way we’re all trying to manipulate the quest to our advantage.

I got a little wrapped up and over competitive this morning using quest channel to encourage people that if they’re sick of being nagged about their 6ths just to solo them, invite whoever they want, or invite a huge crowd and make it a random chance thing.

I’ll apologize for getting carried away with this. It’s unsportsman like. Fixating on that top 10 because in the past the top 10 has earned a piece of quest equipment. Forgetting that part of the point is to get out and meet some other people from Realms so that the rest of the year we might adventure together, kill something, solve some in game quest or riddle.

We don’t even know what the prize structure will be, we’re speculating based on the past 2 years.

Thank you to Zistrosk for his continued efforts to balance this quest and make it fair to as many different groups as possible.  For the people I’ve been teaming up with I’m enjoying exploring Edel quests, the Glass Menagerie rooms, and looking forward to some post-quest mob kills.

Let the pumpkin seeds fall where they may.

Oktoberquest 2018

Last year I didn’t participate in the Oktoberquest. I tried killing a white walker, it was absurdly hard. I asked myself, do you want a month of this? The answer was no and I quit.

The real answer is I wasn’t super motivated to be playing Realms, I was uber focused on Star Wars:Galaxy of Heroes and work and didn’t want to find the time to figure the quest out.

This year, because someone set up a Discord server, I was aware of Oktoberquest an thought I’d give it a go.

I’ll preface by saying Zistrosk puts a tremendous effort into making Realms fun for us and I appreciate his work. Whether the quest is a win or misses the mark, he is trying to design fun activities that are well balanced and I’m positive it’s not easy.

You can read about the quest itself at RoDPedia if you’re not familiar with it.

In 2016 we all actually lost sleep trying to compete. I managed to come in 2nd just because of feeding the OCD competitive demon that lives in my head.

In 2017 it looks to me like anyone who was on a team strong enough to defeat the Night King regularly walked away with the prize. The scores seem to reflect that.

The quest swung from a purely individual effort to something that seemed locked up to strong teams. I say seemed because I wasn’t there.

This year it’s falling somewhere between those extremes, so while there might be ground to criticize the execution there’s a clear attempt to balance this out. Your daily dose of points can be very individual. 21 a day and maybe a few from lucky kill blows on the big pumpkin mob.

The other, team based component has been from sharing points on the 6th challenge mob kill every day. Competition brings out the best and worst in us all I think. I’ve seen messages on channels almost cyber begging for 6th points. I’ve heard stories of people offering gold to be on teams to get 6th points, though it’s possible these stories aren’t true (I wasn’t approached directly and the person involved denies it). Someone even suggested that people were using alts to get to 6th and spoofing IPs to get IP1 points for their own characters. I’m not sure I believe it because it’s an awful risk to take to scam a point here and there.

There certainly was an initial reaction of jealousy at the tight team that Inconnu fields for every event. Some jealousy at the team that Dragonslayer is fielding. The question is what do you do with those feelings? One route is to get angry and frustrated: they’re cheaters or there’s no point in trying because they’re going to win.

Then there’s a different reaction, one that I have been witnessing all over the place. Probably one of the hoped for reactions. I see people from different, far flung, smaller organizations banding together and helping each other out. This quest is bringing people from disparate groups together and making them interact in order to be able to compete. It is my great hope that we continue to nurture these relationships after the quest and translate them into team building. Those Inconnu and Dragonslayer teams didn’t come out of thin air. They’ve worked together as a team for a long time and deserve to be doing well, even if they are making me really work my butt off to stay top 10! 🙂

In my post about IOPK I said there were probably too many organizations for the number of active players that we have. I still think that’s probably true, because membership in an organization tends to segregate us from other players – if by no other method than lack of a common channel to talk on. Yes we have av and other public channels, but it doesn’t put us on a playing field with people we always want to talk to. Sects and sect talk are good, but restricted to non-order players. It is time for something like a friendchat channel, but I don’t think there’s any motivation to create that in game. Instead I think it’s time to go back to an idea that worked in 2000 when we used ICQ to stay in touch with all our game friends. I think the day of a public Discord server where players can make their own semi-private channels is probably here. I think it would help players maintain the sort of friendships and connections that this quest has brought about.

In SW:GOH Discord is key to coordinating guild activities and activities between people who are not in the same guild. It’s not new tech, it was built for the express purpose of putting gamers in touch with each other.

Would you use an off game chat server to stay in touch with your in game friends?

IOPK (or Make Realms PK Again)

Hi all,

Questnews and Twitter and Facebook are telling me all about the Inter-Order Pkill Event that Gonnil will be hosting on May 8th and my personal response is that I’d rather slam my thumb in a door.

I’m not anti-pk so I’d like to establish a few points here

  1. I suck at pk due to a thorough lack of experience.
  2. I think that mk gameplay gets stale and boring and leads to mpdamage programs designed to make you scrap, to disrupt fight triggers, to muddle with your ability to quaff, to penalize you for normal gameplay.  Alternately the mob is placed somewhere that’s a royal pain to get to and/or highly sensitive to the game crashing and ruining a couple of hours of effort.
  3. PK is the only gameplay mode that actually offers any reasonable, sustainable challenge because human players are adaptive.

With that said I completely object to the idea of an Inter-Order event that allows game play on non-ordered alts.  Why not just make this a “teams” event an be done with it?  Well because the Order of Arcanes was recently revitalized from the ranks of PK players instead of being deleted from the game as it probably should have been.  Inactive organizations die out .. it’s not a big deal, it’s a normal thing.  We have 7 orders… given the playerbase … really that’s lots.

I spoke with Gonnil and his replies were along the lines of “anyone can have a pk character” and that nerfing the quaff speed of the PK characters was the biggest needed equalizer.

Maybe, but once more, why bother calling it IOPK?

Good luck to all who compete.  I know Arcanes will be solidly represented and I imagine so will Dragonslayer, pkJoe and pkJim leading the way.  I don’t know but I can imagine Inconnu being solidly represented.  Ringbearers is not an org with many pk people in it so it’s doubtful we’ll participate, but I hope that the event is fun for those who want to be involved.  All I can say is that if this was an attempt to engage with what little community exists on Realms and stimulate interest I think it’s a fail.

The Annual Blog Post

You know, I really have to visit here a little more often if I expect you to 🙂

My interest in the game waxes and wanes with how busy my life is and last year was a whopper.  Lots of changes, a 5 week strike at work, and just generally having to be selective in my choices with entertainment.  What brings me back to Realms once more?  News 1090 naturally.

About 3 years ago I was approached by Akael to work on an update to the Darkhaven Art Gallery.  I was really honoured to participate, I know that it’s such a pivotal area for so many newer players.  I felt that there was a lull in the levelling areas for the 30’s so that’s sort of where I put my focus.  I also looked at the gear in those levels and where I was still wearing academy equipment or other similarly low level stuff and thought, hey these are gaps to fill.  You can let me know if I hit the mark or not, but I think at least some people will be happy with the stuff that was brought in.

I’ve been around this week testing and helping to fix some logic errors in the area.  I can’t thank Destre enough for her efforts, that woman is devoted to seeing things in the game be top notch!  Thanks also to Akael, Ceirana, Zistrosk, and all the others who worked on this project in the background.  To my mind having such a great and diverse group working on these projects helps keep the quality up.

I’ve heard people in the past complain about how long these projects take, hey, there’s lots of time spent checking and rechecking and then fixing things.  Let’s not forget our imms are volunteers giving their leisure time to do these things.  I had to take the idea that “I did my part, it’s in their hands” … but it was exciting to see it ported.  This is the 3rd time some piece of work of mine has found it’s way into Realms and it’s a thrill every time.

The first was an IOQC area I wrote as a member of DS waaaay back in the day.  You had to find and return dragon eggs, but everyone just ended up killing the dragons… the only problem is the dragons used “murder” instead of “kill” and so the spam was unbelievable.  Also killing the dragons was ridiculously hard to discourage that behaviour but … when IOQC teams go at it, they are definitely determined teams and view challenges as things to be overcome.  It went … oh… 4 or 5 hours?  Intended time… 90 minutes?  Yeah.  Learned a lot about not assuming how people will approach the problems.  Sometimes when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail 🙂  Funny thing is that it was Destre helping then too, with an emergency assist from Moonbeam if I recall correctly.

Many of you may also recall I worked on the Guild of Spirits, stepping in to help with that project.  Though I didn’t have much to do with the initial design I am happy with the touches I left on it.  There are times I wish that I had been more active in the Guild of Origin build but you do what you can.

So what’s next for me?  To be really honest I don’t get a big thrill out of playing the game anymore.  I see equations when I look at the game… damage in, healing potential, damage out … scheduling problems like getting 4 people online who want to do the same thing etc.  These days I do continue to enjoy mapping as much of the Realms as I can, I do have a project underway that I put down 2 years ago that I think I should finish and share.  I also see a couple of unfinished building projects I think I may be ready to put my hands to and see if they can get to the finish line.  Of course there’s also more ideas … a totally new area … but finish one thing before starting the next!

I have not yet explored the other new paintings that my fellow builders worked on, I look forward to exploring them soon.  If you see one of them online, thank them!

Falc-on, Falc-off!

It’s fitting that here today on my 100th post I have good news to share.

Back in October I shared how Zistrosk’s quest mob managed to beat my repair triggers and cause me to scrap my Mask of the Master Rogue.

In November Kinux allowed the Falcon to be challenged again by those of us who had defeated him previously, to the delight of several of us.  I know at least 3 people who had retired thieves that went and have remasked their old characters.  Yet even with the news of the successes Lareawan continued to be told he wasn’t ready.

Frustrating?  You bet!  I thought perhaps it was because I had completed redoing the quest prior to Kinux’s announcement that I wasn’t tagged correctly or something to that effect.

The truth was much simpler… I wasn’t wearing the Falcon set.  When I first levelled Lareawan and obtained the set of course I wore the pieces, they were upgrades to what I was wearing.  I confess I missed the jade strand for a little while but after a while I got over it.  Now that I’m adventuring as a more mature character I’ve swapped out some pieces and had relied on the mask as my 3rd piece.  Well, back to storage I went and picked up the greaves from the floor and trotted back to Shadowport to try again.

This time … I wasn’t ready again … but at least it was the half screen of spam not ready message that came with trans back to the thieves’ guild!  A couple hours later I tried again and before long the magic words scrolled across my window:

Your pierce tears the Falcon!
The Falcon is DEAD!!
As The Falcon falls, his most prized possession falls from his face…
The Falcon says ‘You have done well to best me, Lareawan… You are a true master.’
The Falcon gasps its last breath and blood spurts out of its mouth and ears.
You get 10821253 gold coins from the corpse of the Falcon.
You get the Mask of the Master Rogue from the corpse of the Falcon.

Thank you Kinux.  Happy 100 all!