Public Space, Private Space – the MMO player’s friend!

I wrote this piece as an article for the October Guild of Messengers newsletter – http://messengers.sixpencemedia.com/.    If you aren’t seeing it, the newsletter will be up soon. 

Let’s talk about instancing, in two multiplayer games (MMOs):

     Guild Wars – http://www.guildwars.com

     Myst Online: Restoration Experiment – Uru – http:/www.mystonline.com. 

 

From the official Guild wars Wiki – “An instance is a game location that is specifically generated by the game for a party or group…… Instancing allows a party to adventure by itself without other players stealing kills/loot, but also precludes any chance of meeting a random stranger at a secluded location ……” (http://wiki.guildwars.com/wiki/Instance)

 

Scenario time –  I’m in Guild Wars, and I need to find 5 gargoyle skulls. I start in an area with people, and I enter an instance of an area – the catacombs. The area is mine alone to play in. The magic, the beauty, the wonder and the fun – it’s all mine! I wander around, and I find some gargoyles – those meanies! I rain fire, and I get my skulls. I leave the catacombs and go back to town.

 

In Guild Wars an instance is not permanent. When you leave an instanced area, your copy goes away. The next time you go exploring , another copy of the area is generated for you. It sounds disjointed, but it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like you exploring the same area. This works because there are things you can accomplish in an hour or two of play.

 

In Uru instancing is permanent.  When I play Uru, areas of the world, called ages, are set up for me as I explore. Unless I decide to reset an age, whatever I do in my private ages stays “done”, even if I leave and come back to the age. If I push a lever in Teledahn to turn on power, the next time I enter Teledahn, the power is still on. It makes sense to have permanent instanced ages in Uru because the puzzles are lengthy and complicated. If an age was reset whenever I left – I wouldn’t get anywhere! I can also invite people to my private ages – I can share them with friends.

 

This feature of Uru is very appealing. All of my private ages feel, in some way, like home.

 

Both Uru and Guild Wars have shared spaces, an area owned by a group of people. Uru calls them neighborhoods. Guild Wars calls them Guild Halls.

 

Both games have multiplayer public spaces. Guild Wars has towns, estates, outposts. Guild Wars makes copies of the public spaces, so the towns don’t feel too crowded.  Each copy of a public space can be visited by any player. If your friends are in a different public space from the one you are in, you can join them.  Uru has one public space, Ae’gura, the city. About 100 people at one time can be in the public Ae’gura.  Uru also makes copies of the city accessible from the neighborhoods, to enable everyone to visit the city, whenever they want to.

 

Not all MMO players like instancing.  Arenanet plans to reduce instancing for its next game, Guild Wars II, and focus on more of a classic MMO shared game world.  But – I want to say to Arenanet – I love instancing!  Uru is currently not open for play, but there is some possiblity that it will come back.  MORE/Uru will continue to have permanent instanced areas.

 

Here’s what I love about instancing. Online games can be messy, complicated places, particularly for a devoted but intermittent player. They can be annoying to the player who likes both an online world with “people” and a virtual world where you can be alone – or with a few companions. My game time is very limited, and I want to have a good time each time I play. Sometimes I want to experience the beauty and the wonder of the worlds all by myself. I’m social, but there are times when I want to be alone. I don’t want to ignore the people in an online space, like you ignore strangers on the street in a real city. Sometimes I want the “people” to not be there at all! I want to control it – I want to be the one who decides when to be with people and when to be alone, in my beautiful online multiplayer worlds.

 

So please – Uru and Guild Wars – keep my private space!

 

A few pictures – because I like pictures

 

Teledahn - a private age

Teledahn - a private age

 

Teledahn, a private age in Uru

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guild Hall View

Guild Hall View

 

 

 

 

 

View from my  guild hall, a shared space in Guild Wars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regards,

amarez – mszv

 

 

Guild Wars – Gargoyles – New Clothes

Someone asked me what I did the other night, after class, and I said – I fought gargoyles, in Guild Wars! 
               
I’m at the beginning of Guild Wars (online multiplayer game), the Prophesies compaign, the “presearing” world, before all the bad things happen.  The game designers make it easy for a new player, so that we can develop our skills.  When I traveled to the catacombs, all of the gargoyles did not attack me on sight.   A few of them noticed me – there was a big powerful one that was really mean!  For the other ones, I had to take the initiative.  I had to fight them –  I want the area cleared out and I need those gargoyle skulls. 

I got most of them – there’s only a couple of gargoyles left.  I watched one of them for a long time, and then I let him live. I have all the gargoyle skulls I need, and he seemed kind of lonely.  How much fun can it be, hanging around the catacombs, never venturing out to the surrounding lands?  That’s not much of a life.

My Elementalist Fights a Gargoyle

My Elementalist Fights a Gargoyle

 

 

 

Here I am, fighting a gargoyle.

 

 

 

 

Guild Wars - Gargoyle

Guild Wars - Gargoyle

 

 

I let this gargoyle live.

 

 

 

 

 

The world is bucolic, above ground, but there are some weird things going on.  I had to defend myself against the largest seed you are ever going to see!  Yes, a seed, as in a plant seed, but it turned into a weird killer thing.  What’s with this lovely world – unnatural magic, a thinning of the ozone later, what?

Elementalist Fighting a Seed

Elementalist Fighting a Seed

 

 

 

Here I am, fighting a very mutant “seed”!

 

 

 

 I really like my new armor.  Yes, that floaty skirt is “armor” — it protects me.  The outfit is still too skimpy for my tastes, but it’s a lot better than the short cheerleader skirt I got when I started out.  I like the top better too – I’m not spilling out of it, like I was with the other top.  I do need better boots and gloves.

Guild Wars - Elementalist - New Armor

Guild Wars - Elementalist - New Armor

                        
                               
                         
                                  
My Elementalist in new armor – very nice.
             
                        
                        
                   
                         
           
                            
                        
             
Regards,
amarez – mszv

Guild Wars – Myst Online Uru – letting go – connections

I’ve played Myst Online (Uru), an online multiplayer game, for forever, in game years.  I was in the 2003 beta. I’ve played Uru through three multiplayer phases, and its solo player phase.  I’ve been a forum moderator on two official forums.  I’ve became friends with someone who worked for the publisher.  I’ve corresponded with people on the developer side.  I have a history.  I know Uru. I’ve been a part of something.

I’ll play online multiplayer Uru again, when it comes back. Sometimes I don’t even know if I like Uru anymore, but I can’t stay away.  I’ll play Uru, but it won’t be an “exclusive” deal – another MMO calls.

I’ve been playing Guild Wars for two months.  I’ve never played an online RPG (MMO role playing game) – so I’m new, and I’m slow.  Many people play Guild Wars – though estimates vary since there are no subscription fees. Over 5 million units were sold, but there are no good figures on how many are playing.  It’s got experts, forums with many members, and people who have been playing since 2005.  Some of the players must have played in the Guild Wars beta, so they’ve been around even longer.

It’s interesting, going from one game where you have a history, to one where you have no history.  I love Guild Wars, and I’m playing Guild Wars for the right reason, because I love it.  Guild Wars is beautiful – a big world with a story and a lot to do.      It’s an online, multiplayer game, but you can play this multiplayer game by yourself, with others, or you can head up a small group of AI (artificial intelligence) characters, when you are on a quest.  What’s even better is that I, a new slow player who doesn’t play much – I’m in a guild! 

Here’s the story. You online players have heard this story before, but it’s new to me!

In Guild Wars, a guild is a group of people who make up a social network (reference  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guild_Wars#Guilds). Many MMORPGs have guilds; Uru has something equivalent, called a neighborhood.  In Guild wars, guild members get a special “channel” in game, where you can talk to your guild mates, via text chat.  The guild can purchase a guild hall, where you can hang out with members of your guild.  The Guild Hall is a private area open only to guild members and guests.  There are other goodies in the hall, but you get the general idea. “Hall” is something of misnomer, if you count the surrounding lands that make up your Guild hall. Our hall is beautiful. 

Our guild is great.  Some of us play a lot, some of us play a little, and there is no pressure on how and when we play.  As far as I can tell, my guild operates on the principle that we all have busy lives, so we should play how and when it works for us. Not all guilds in all games are like that.  We are also in an alliance with other guilds, many of whom are former or current Uru players.  Our alliance has a shared chat channel (talk via text), and we can visit the guild halls of the guilds in our alliance.  We can also participate in alliance battles, but I don’t know how that works.  I’m a PvE (player versus environment) sort of player.  I engage in battle with opponents in my world (such as monsters), but I don’t fight other players.

And how did I get to be a member of my guild and my alliance – through Myst Online Uru. Uru players started playing other online games, both before and after Uru’s cancellation.   I was recruited by an Uru player (thanks C!) who noticed I was online in another game called “There”.  She visited me in There, We started talking, and then C. saw my post in an Uru forum which said that I was playing Guild Wars.  C recruited me to her guild. Aside from being a really nice person – she’s got a genuine talent for low key but effective PR!

Long time online players may think “what’s the big deal”, but Uru attracted players who had never played an online game.  Before Uru, many of us thought we could never play online multiplayer games. After Uru, many of us thought that we could only play Uru.  Then it happened – people recruited their online Uru friends and acquaintances to other games, and their friends brought in other friends, and our game world expanded.  I would have played Guild Wars without being magically asked to be in a guild, but it makes it extra wonderful to be in a Guild.  I didn’t have to look for a guild.  Thanks to C., I was invited to join a guild.

So – this moving on thing is weird. I’m playing Guild Wars for the right reasons, because I love it.  I’ve got no history in Guild Wars, unlike Uru.  I’ll never be a legacy person, or an expert. But, oddly enough, I have connections – a community of Uru players who went to Guild Wars, and I can be a member of their group.  I’m still playing by myself, but I also have a small group (a guild), and a big group (an alliance).  I like it.

Here’s a picture of my ritualist character, in our guild hall. “Ritualists channel other-worldly energies that summon allies from the void and employ mystic binding rituals that bend those allies to the Ritualist’s will.” (http://wiki.guildwars.com/wiki/Ritualist)

Guild Wars - My Ritualist in my Guild Hall

Guild Wars - My Ritualist in our Guild Hall

                          
                                                                                                                                                                                     
Regards,
mszv – amarez

Guild Wars – characters and popular culture

I’m playing Guild Wars, an online multiplayer roleplaying game – an MMORPG.  It’s a beautiful game.  The “campaign” (area) I am in, Prophesies, has a medievalist fantasy look to it.   I’m currently in the “presearing” world –  a lovely, bucolic, mostly peaceful world.  I know that bad things are going to happen, and the world will change.  Here is a lovely view of my world.

Guild Wars Prophesies - presearing - lovely view

Guild Wars Prophesies - lovely view

Here is my elementalist character – Amarez.  An elementalist is a magician who can channel the “elements” (fire, air, water, earth), to defeat enemies and help her comrades.  Think Storm in the X-Men movies and you’ll know what I mean.
Guild Wars - Amarez, the elementalist

Guild Wars - Amarez, the elementalist

So, yes, it’s a medievalist fantasy game (like Lord of the Rings, the movie), but look at her hair style.   Doesn’t her hair style have an oddly contemporary look?  It’s quite attractive and not fantasy medievalist at all!
   
That’s because games are part of popular culture, which sometimes makes for an odd combination of things.  The designers have to come up with something that people feel comfortable identifying with.  In this case it’s an attractive short layered haircut, with bangs, in a medievalist fantasy world
   
When you play popular MMORPGs, you also have to get past the popular culture thing, even if it’s not how you would do it.   You can see that my elementalist is, thankfully, mostly covered, but that outfit is way too skimpy for me, and she’s much too busty for my taste!  As the game progresses, I’ll be able to cover her up a little more – I can get her new “armor” in the form of a longer pareo type skirt.  I don’t think I’ll be able to cover up her bustline, but I’m going to check.
  
You know, that top she is wearing has got to be “magic” armor.  How the heck does that top stay on?
amarez – mszv