A Journey into Despair Doesn’t Have to be IP1

I was somewhat taken aback to learn to day that Justin Carmical aka JewWario had committed suicide in January.  As I read his wife’s announcement to the community, including his fans from Youtube many thoughts ran through my head.  Many of them absolutely typical I’m sure.  Please indulge me for a few minutes.

You see, I wasn’t a fan of Carmical’s work.  I profess to have never watched an episode of You Can Play This because I’m not a big fan of Japanese games/animation styles however I did encounter him through the work of James Rolfe (aka The Angry Video Game Nerd) and of Doug Walker (aka That Guy With the Glasses).  You see just as we on Realms form communities, many of the early Youtube channel creators along the same theme have been aware of one another and sometimes collaborated.  I heard of Carmical’s death on a post about the AVGN Movie premiere next month.

What struck me is that there is a post describing a situation that I cannot imagine ever wanting to relate.  A human being I love locking themselves in a bathroom and fatally shooting themselves while I talked to them through the door.  Let that sink in for a minute.  Then imagine having to go online and tell the world.  That was Jenny Valentine’s experience and she handled it with a grace I can only wish for.

In the upcoming month I will be sharing with you some reminisces of a variety of people from the Realms to celebrate the 20th anniversary of our game.  I’m going to share a very quick one now.  As a run council leader in the Guild of Druids about 12 years ago or so I found myself counseling people from time to time.  One of these people was a regular who we thought was a pretty heavy drinker.  One night he told me that when he logged out he was going to kill himself.  I don’t know why he chose me, it doesn’t matter.  I took him seriously, not only because of the way he told me but because of the history.  I get a bit nervous calling police.  Calling police halfway across the continent to explain that someone I knew from a chat game on the internet was suicidal was a very strange call indeed.  Today police might be more prepared for that kind of call, 12 years ago it was a strange one, big time.  Through a mix of keeping him talking and asking careful questions I drew enough information out of him to get the police to his house.

I don’t know what ever happened to him.  I want to tell you he lived happily ever after but honestly I don’t know, I sure hope he got the help he needed.

If you or someone you know are feeling hopeless, like there’s no way to make your life better let me share this: it can be a hard road but there is help out there.  I spent a lot of time hiding away from my own problems and it almost destroyed the joy in my life.  I was very  lucky that I finally reached out for help, more than 5 years later I can tell you life is pretty good.

Find someone to trust, find a hand to hold.  The road is long, but you need not walk it alone.

The Brujah Return (for IOQC)

So I mentioned getting myself ready for IOQC but what about the IOQC?

This month’s quest was hosted by the Order of Inconnu written by Lady Velya herself.  I quested on Tharius as part of the Dragonslayer team which also consisted of Sophie, Yibaroane, Malfian and Gagnon.

The quest had us retrieving ancient tablets from increasingly more difficult Brujah warriors.  The first warrior was straightforward and in fact stopped the fight before we killed him off.  We had returned to General Assembly for a clue since he had turned himself pacifist but it turned out he was waiting for a little briberooni 🙂

The next two warriors kicked like mules though.  Of course both used a great number of vampiric attacks but also rained a fair amount of gouges and hellfire into my life (I really have to find a good way to cut hellfire down, it’s starting to show up everywhere!!).  A couple of deaths and regroups and we managed to get the job done, switching to ambrosias for the last fight really helped recover from the gouge lag.

I’ve been running around investigating the history of the old clans so to see a direct reference to Brujah here was nice.  Of course both the Inconnu and Brujah are themselves references to White Wolf Games Vampire:The Masquerade so the reference may not have been to the in game pk clan but rather to the original source material but either way, nicely written and themed.

Congrats to DS for coming first in this event, I was proud of our team for working well together.  Solutions to the clues came from 3 different people and lots of suggestions and communication team wide.  Congrats to the other teams as well, I didn’t mind waiting 45 minutes to pester Destre for glory work while you guys were still out and adventuring! 🙂

Good luck next time!!

The Great Glory Spending Debate

As  I prepared Tharius for the upcoming IOQC I realized …. I have no clue where my bloody +1 STR blue, glassy chain is.  I had used it recently for levelling but on checking all my clerics and mages I came up empty.  Well maybe one of my half orc fighting class characters bogarted by accident.  Newp.  Ok we’re over 30 characters checked here for 1 STR, so we are quickly losing that loving feeling.

Oh, it was in the storage container with the other 5 chains waiting for homes (I level lots of things that can wear turquoise anklets).  So right there the decision was made to rename this sucker and never again to have to identify a plethora of ankle wear (imagine this is in the real world… excuse me sir can I see your ankles?)

Already I hear groaning.  85 glory in and all you get is a STR.  Well yeah … but I get a STR on a character that desperately needs it who happens to be the first character I ever avatared on Realms.  I’m stubborn about using Tharius for quests wherever possible … a ranger isn’t specialized as wonderful for anything, yet makes a very nice general class with 25 str, 22 dex using fighter gear and hitting with gash.

Once that decision was made I started eyeballing my other glory totals and realized I could bring Lareawan up to 1800 hp.  My goal is 2k, but 1800 is a very nice plateau too.


<used as light> the sigil of Bron’trel
<worn on finger> (Humming) Set’s ring of Power
<worn on finger> (Humming) Set’s ring of Power
<worn around neck> Collar of Abyssal Servitude
<worn around neck> Collar of Abyssal Servitude
<worn on body> black leather mutant armor
<worn on head> the shade helm
<worn on legs> the black ring mail greaves of the Falcon
<worn on feet> the black leather boots of the Falcon
<worn on hands> Inescapable Grasp of Doom
<worn on arms> The Intricate Tattoo of the Legendary Guild of Origin First
<worn about body> A shroud of darkness
<worn about body> (Humming) the cloak of Death
<worn about waist> (Glowing) (Humming) a scarlet red belt
<worn around wrist> a spiked leather wristguard
<worn around wrist> Guard of Raven Black
<wielded> a bright shiny bottlecap
<dual wielded> Darkfire thrasher
<worn on ears> Demonic Whispers
<worn on eyes> subversion
<worn on back> a thick piece of lizard hide
<worn over face> the facade of the Hannya
<worn around ankle> a demonskin ankle bracer
<worn around ankle> a demonskin ankle bracer
You report: 1800/1800 hp 666/666 mv 88239232 xp.
Your base stats: 17 str 9 int 9 wis 18 dex 15 con 11 cha 16 lck.
Your current stats: 20 str 13 int 10 wis 25 dex 16 con 12 cha 20 lck.

The Tattoo item is the GoW leader sleeves which were passed from Hubris to Ravith to me.  The decision to wear them cost me 3 dr and a dex but gives me renewed reason to get off my butt and get a Falcon mask on this character.

The cloak of death is +29hp and the Guard of the Raven Black is +20.  All in all I’m sitting at 120 dr in this build but a little rearranging will bring that number up a little more.  I’ve always looked at 120 dr as the “decent” number though I know lots of people out there have pushed further beyond that into truely stunning levels.

The bottlecap is a Lifebane.  So I see a great number of routes to move forward, I am on the pop list for a Raelin light.  I need to get back to work on Edo necks.  Another guard or a better hat might be nice … but the topic at hand wasn’t to make a shopping list of what next 🙂

Spending the glory evoked a number of comments at recall, primarily “what a waste of glory, I would have saved it all for DR”.  I’ve got 3 DR+ spent in HP right now.  I debated whether to go DR or HP when I first started spending and I’ll tell you why I strongly disagree with the comment that was made.  First DR operates under the assumption that the gloried gear will always reside on a thief or other hitter class reliant on DR as a main stat.  For me this is utterly false.  I quest on rangers, thieves, druids, vampires … it’ll go where I need it.  The next point is that I don’t only use this gear for quests, it comes out and goes on the road.  If I’m stepping up to tank I want every possible HP with me… big gas and heavy mpdamage programs are fairly common out there.  I can take 2 800hp damage programs back to back and still have 200 hp … if I can’t quaff back 600 hp before the unlikely 3rd damage program hits, well I should start looking at the screen while I tank.

So there it is.  For me hit points are useful on every single character I slap a death cloak and guard on.  Any mob I face is going to look at my HP and try to make it 0 but isn’t going to care about my DR (I have NEVER been chased out of a fight for being too low on DR 🙂 ) I’m not disparaging spending on DR … getting to the 150 DR plateau is a goal of mine, but it’s longer term.  My HP goals have been much more rapidly obtainable giving me a continual sense of achievement.

If at some point I need to add on more stats I probably won’t add it to these items, but there’s lots of slots to go.  If I get desperate for dex maybe I’ll hunt down one of those 20 AC golden bedsheets through dedicated deck hunting (or cough up some ridiculous amount for one) … or of course, there’s always the other ankle.

Happy questing in YOUR pursuit of glory and thanks to Destre for her dedicated efforts in merging tiny HP amounts every couple o’ quests! 🙂

10 Ways to Ensure Your Best People Will Quit

Player retention is something which seems to be on a lot of people’s minds.  I suggest it may be more important than attraction but at the very least they go hand in hand towards creating a healthy player base.  I don’t claim these ideas, this is something I’m adapting from a business article that I read earlier it deals with more universal satisfaction topics rather than delving into game play issues. I think this might be interesting to any organization leaders, immortals or even people looking for a way to better express things that are bothering them.

10. Treat everyone equally

Some players contribute more to the game.  They bring people with them and help contribute to other people’s enjoyment.  Equality isn’t sufficient, fairness is.

9. Tolerate mediocrity (in yourself).

The idea that “A-players” have less desire to play with “C-players” is true, perhaps more in gaming than in the work world.  “A-players” are under no obligation to explain the “big” runs or “hard” mazes.  People do figure these things out by investing time learning simpler mazes in low risk areas and eventually graduate to bigger and better.  These players are under no obligation to teach new players though many do for lots of good reasons.

8. Have dumb rules.

The original article talks about having rules that get in the way of doing their job.  I believe in simple, unambiguous, enforceable rules.  Establish solid principles and derive rules from there.  I don’t just mean laws, I mean things like using “in area ip check” versus “global ip check”.  To me this is a dumb rule … let me leave my characters in Darkhaven who aren’t at all involved in the fight’s outcome online waiting the 4 hours for their tinker tag to rot off online.  This is just an example.  There are lots of little things like this that are irritants for the sake of anti-exploitation or anti-staking.  Let’s put our heads together and come up with better ways of doing business.

7. Don’t recognize outstanding performance and contributions.

The original article says it best “[b]ehavior you want repeated should be rewarded immediately”.

6. Don’t have any fun at work.

In the game context I’m going to say that you can suck all the fun out of your own game if all you do is monotonous things.  When your strategy to bigger and better gear is to gold until someone auctions it, are you having fun?

5. Don’t keep people informed.

I think this one is really prevalent on Realms.  The latest news item is from March 28.  The latest pknews is from April 05.  Today is June 22.  Nuff said.

4. Micromanage.

There’s two sides to this.  The first is telling people what you want done and how to do it.  Some runs have become an exercise in micromanagement … this tendency is not adding challenge to runs, but tedium (again in the name of anti-staking?)  The other side of this is not asking players how to make things better.  I think this happens on a small scale but there are issues lurking about that I recall from the late 90’s.

3. Don’t develop a [player] retention strategy.

To borrow from the original article again here, make a list of players you would not want to lose from your organization or from the game in general.  Think about whether those players are happy.  Ask yourself if you are doing anything to make sure they stay engaged.

2. Don’t conduct retention interviews.

Ok, this isn’t a workplace so retention interviews probably wouldn’t be formal but sit and talk with people before they’re walking out the door because in the game you never know when they’re typing quit for the last time.

1. Make getting started as tedious as possible.

This has been harped on for 20 years.  The wall of text that is help start and the way players learn the game by reading instead of doing … it goes well for the new preauth but then we dump players into the game and say good luck.  I have some ideas about this and to be clear people like Loril work at this tirelessly but I have first hand experience at trying to recruit MMO gamers and their first reaction is “Yeah, too much reading to even get going doing anything”.  These are people who came from BBS gaming too.


I thought these 10 points were relevant.  They don’t address everything but I think that they address enough that they were worth adapting for you here.  Cheers!


Still (almost) homeless


Last weekend we saw a house put on the market after a conversation that included talking about how housing makes people feel more invested in the game.  People get their own corner and set up their own sect, even if it’s just their alts, they’ve got something that they designed, named and get to take pride in.

Some of us get that feeling in the organizations we’re in but the fact is that organizations have rules about treating their save rooms as your own personal storage and from time to time people drift from organization to organization.  So having your own part of Realms has a special appeal, it’s yours.  No matter where you go or what you do.  Want to leave 50 laundry baskets on the floor?  Go for it!  Yay!

We also talked about the previous record holding 14b coins spent on the last house and how that was a ridiculous sum.  Some people assert that housing is a gold sink.  It’s something that sucks a whack of gold out of the economy and evens things out a bit.  Maybe that’s true.  It certainly does suck gold out.  Somewhere along the line however, it also became a reason to amass gold.  Some people who are golding say they’re doing it to save for a house.  So while it will continue to suck the gold out of the system, it also has become a reason for people to amass every increasing totals.  One nameless “up there” immortal told me the only time they ever golded was after buying their house to pay off their loans from friends.

I think part of the problem is that supply is far lower than demand and that apartments are more or less seen as useless.  You can start a sect, but if you ever upgrade to a house you’ll have to disband your sect and re-create it in order to move it.  I think this has to do with how secthome recall has been coded but I’m talking out of pure speculation here.  IF apartment sects could upgrade to a house somehow, without spending another 500,000,000 gold coins I’d already own one.

In help tsnews it was mentioned that there was some discussion about how to modify apartments, so it’s not as though it’s not on the radar, I’m repeating here a lot of what I said during that meeting.  It would be AWESOME to be able to upgrade and expand apartments and houses without every little thing dinging your house owning non-ordered non-clanned character having to scrape up the glory.  Seriously, if you wanted to tunnel a room to 1 in your house it’d be 80 glory… 80… a room ed is 40 glory for 24 lines…  (note I’m not sure if you have to pay an extra 20 if you want a COLOR ed).  Do I think this stuff should be freebies or gold driven?  No.  You need to earn stuff to feel some pride of ownership (imo) and if it’s gold driven it’s just going to be another reason for people to run level 30 barbarian bots in Coral Depths.  These things could make great quest reward scrolls though, even accepting that someone’s gonna hit traffic and try to sell theirs (if we say 300m per 10 glory using a rename scroll as a guide, do you think anyone’s going to trade 1.2b for a tunnel change scroll?  For a +1000 weight scroll, maybe!).  What’s the other bonus?  If you’re earning these things, you’ve been out and participating in quests and that’s gotta be a good thing right?

I made no secret that I was in on this house.  At any price?  No.  The hammer price on it was 16,500,000,000 gold coins (unless there was a last minute bid I didn’t see) and I chose to step out of the bidding around 15,000,000,000 coins.  I want a house and once I have one my desire for gold will fall off, if I can buy potions and do repairs I have enough, I’ve always been that way.  Gold is not a high score to me.  It’s just a resource that comes and goes.  I see people on traffic all day long looking for stuff and honestly, I’d rather run, it’s the getting not the having for me, but that’s a different rant.  The handful of us who are looking forward to starting a sect together will keep adventuring together and wait for the next little bit of Realms to go up for sale.


A testament to “honor” and “comaraderie” …

As readers of this blog will recognize, I often struggle with how I feel about this situation or that and that as often as not my emotions play a significant role in making decisions.  I can intellectualize things but at the end of the day it has to feel right or it’s the wrong answer for me.

I have often felt that a number of the rules of the Realms are just flat silly.  I think they often overreach, are sometimes unevenly enforced and could be better resolved by an examination of root behaviours.  I also understand that in order to resolve those problems would require a tremendous effort and I don’t think anyone wants to spend their recreation time being an amateur lawyer or unpaid babysitter.  I generally try to play within the rules by buying into the idea of the “good of the Realms”.  If I stake an area endlessly I deprive others of the chance to come get whatever I’m staking.  If I flood the market with some piece of equipment just for the sake of driving the price down I devalue the efforts of others trying to accomplish the same goals (though I don’t buy into the economy idea, but that’s a different tirade), if I complain endlessly without trying to find ways to contribute to a solution then I am sapping the energy of others who might want to contribute.  These are but a few examples of some of the things I feel work.  I posted it when I left the game all those years ago, leave Realms better than you found it.  That’s me.  I don’t always succeed and to be honest I don’t even always try, but I think I do more good than harm by a long shot.

I feel that I conduct myself honourably… oh wait, let’s back up and define it: Merriam-Webster says that honour is “respect that is given to someone who is admired”, “good reputation, good quality or character as judged by other people”, “high moral standards of behaviour”, “a showing of usually merited respect”, “one’s word given as a guarantee of performance” … it’s very clear that there are many facets of what can be considered as honourable.

Some of the things I do not feel reflect honourably on people or organizations on Realms include frequently being helled for breaking rules, attempting to skirt the rules by arguing against the letter of the rules when the spirit is quite clear, intentionally exploiting other players in bad trades, stealing from donations or organizations  … the list goes on but these are some obvious ones.  Let’s try a couple more.  Caring about improving your organization to the point that you do not care about any detrimental effects you have on other organizations.  Attracting people with an expression of friendship and mutual goals but treating them like a warm body instead of a part of the team.  Volunteering to spearhead projects or organizations and then disappearing without so much as a word for weeks on end. Picking activities based solely on your goals and gains but not supporting the goals of others who help you accomplish yours.  I think those things also fail to meet the social contract for honourable behaviour.

One of the things that has always felt right is promoting camaraderie within the Realms of Despair, especially in the organizations I participate in.  Merriam-Webster defines it as “a feeling of good friendship among the people in a group”.  There are a variety of definitions but all of them emphasize friendship and either state or imply trust as properties that have to exist.

Contrary to what some might think, I do not come to Realms looking to make new friends that I will have and cherish the rest of my life.  Most of my friends on Realms would disappear from my life if they logged out of Realms and never came back.  There are a select few who I would know how to get a hold of outside Realms by email or phone but there are very few.  I talked a little bit about this before but a recent comment that I want more than some people are willing to give made me realize that perhaps I need to just tone it down a bit.  Sure, I know details of lots of people’s lives… marital status, state or province (maybe even city) of residence, number of kids, perhaps – and this is one of those fine lines – I might know their kid’s names … these things are not a big deal to me.  It’s just a way of personalizing a line of text into a person instead of a chat program.  So to me friendship on Realms is mostly about having people around who I enjoy chatting with, who are interested in some of the same types of game play I am interested in and who I enjoy spending leisure time with.  When these people leave Realms I do miss them but the fact is that Realms is what we had in common.

So in general I think if I want to promote camaraderie within Realms then part of that is being at least minimally social.  Saying hello at least to my organization when I log in, normally saying good bye, engaging in a little small talk.  If I can’t achieve that small amount then I don’t think that I can move past anonymous text to anything like even online friendship.  I’ll also say I think that it is very hard to trust anyone that I do not believe behaves in an honourable manner.  If they’re willing to screw over others, how long before they screw me over?  To me camaraderie requires both aspects, friendship and trust.  There are those on Realms who I enjoy associating with but I would never trust.  Similarly there are those I feel I can trust but don’t care to associate with.

So why talk about honor and camaraderie?  I guess I didn’t like being told that I had excessive expectations of people leading an organization that “stands as a testament to Honor, Comaraderie” and some other stuff by someone who endlessly farms and gets helled for botting when they disappear for 3 weeks without so much as a note saying “hey, we need a break”.

Huh.  I got the idea these things were important by people who remember my efforts in organizations like the Guild of Druids 10 years ago who come back and tell me how fondly they remember that game play.  I got the idea from the immortals who share their recollections about their experiences.

… but maybe I’m the asshole, won’t be the first time, won’t be the last.