Wednesday, 30 May 2007

The Numbnuts

Its time to introduce another part of the experience. With Aithne and I messing around so much we really started to get on well with the guild. Around about this time the first Master Level Raids were being run on Prydwen. I didn't pay any attention to that because I was having enough trouble figuring out how to level my Shade.

Aithne and I were busy running around finding the best hunting spots in Hibernia. We found some peachy places like the hill to the west of Howth where Deamhan Aeirs hang out. Most of the time we would just sit and chat renewing that old familiar bond. It was around this time that Wyst, the current GM of the Marsh Horde, and Briannon started to level new characters. Now and then we would also be joined by another decent bloke - Sky and his alts. We called the group "The Numbnuts" because well we had no healers and basically relied on doing as much damage as possible to mobs in order to survive. It worked quite well even if it was slightly unconventional.

We spent long periods of time sitting down and chatting on Skype. One of the major bonuses of this group was that we got to know two more people very well indeed. Both Wyst and Briannon had a solid knowledge of Hybrasil the Shrouded Isles expansion. This expansion did have some really nice content and so there was something to be said for the game design. In particular we spent a long time 'farming' on the beach at Necht and in the woods west of Necht.

These were long sessions and in time we all got to know each other well. I really feel like we bedded in. This group took us all the way to out first level 50 characters. So was the pixel that empty? At this stage no. The pixel was imbued with an old and new bonds all of which were developing and keeping me in the game. Behind such social bonds are emotions and of course old memories. At that time the game was imbued with meaning associated with all of these things. I agree with Ambera these bonds are the building blocks of community they are the starting point around which groups form and maintain themselves.

The game acts a medium for these bonds. The content of the game well it was more or less a sideline that did not really impact that much on the dynamics of why I was playing. I am not sure I would ever have got to level 50 without the company of these friends. I was paying to meet my firends and to experience something together. That was a wonderful thing.

5 comments:

Roz / Zora / Ambera / Ascarii said...

/wave

Nice to see a bit of MH history coming out - as you know I was in Marsh Horde before joining NFD too, though sadly it was very close to being a dead guild at the time, before Wyst took over. I felt terrible about leaving, even though I had not formed close bonds with anyone in the guild. They all seemed like nice people, but we weren't online at the same time all that much and there weren't enough of us to form groups to do anything much, after the first couple of weeks I was a member.

Which leads me to this - the people I had made friends with (in-game friends that at that point hadn't crossed that misty border into being 'real' friends) were the people I, and later Maxis, levelled with. Levelling in DAoC is a terrible grind, boring as hell - but that's when you get to know people. When you're bored, when you're frustrated, when you're with a laid-back group and you wipe in Tir Suil for the third time in a row and you have a laugh while you're all running back again. When you swap jokes and do silly dances in the downtimes, which are huge because you're not opted. Eventually you lose patience with the process, with farming the same mobs over and over, but first time round, even second time round, the grind is enjoyable because it's a social activity.

There's been a fair bit written on downtime as an essential ingredient in the forming of social bonds (Raph Koster as per usual has something to say on the matter http://www.raphkoster.com/gaming/socialization.shtml) but there is a question as to how you balance that with the inevitable boredom and frustration that sets in when players have levelled through all the content several times on different characters. Do you think the instanced levelling now in place in DAoC is a good idea?

Sharkith said...

Hi Ambera,

its funny you should ask me this. I logged into the game last week and started to level a mauler. I wanted to take a look at how overpowered Mythic can make a character. Since my first chaarcter was a nightshade I am always shocked at how weak they are in PvE so to look at a new class with its characteristic overpowered nature was worth doing.

I spent the first evening grinding out quests. I hate the old quests but noticed with LOTM the interface is really cool. You can select quests by checking out rewards before hand. So its a good way to look for decent kit as you level.

Anyway I grinded the quests and level to level 4 (you still cannot /level a new character which I suppose is a good thing).

I got bored and logged off for the rest of the week. Then I was in London on Saturday morning and I decended to get to level 5 so I could be ready to try the Mauler out later on Sunday night. I killed an orange con mob and got over 2 bubs exp!!

I could not believe it. " bubs at that level! That took me ages when I had the shade! So 15 mins later I was level 5 and standing at the trainer in Tir na nog.

I was right though - Maulers are stupidly overpowered.

As for the instanced levelling, I can see plus and negative sides. Wyst is a die hard play a class all the way through person. I am not because after the trauma of the nightshade and minimal power levelling I never want to have to grind a game again.

I was never able to recreate that levelling experience in the game after 'The Numbnuts' disbanded. People then went their seperate ways. So in some ways the grind was important for the group to bond but that bond did not really last once we got to the RvR end game. Something I am coming to in the story...

Lieva said...

Im enjoying your journal :)

Littlefirby said...

I feel your pain about grinding in the game to an extent Shark, but to be honest I kind of liked the monotony sometimes... when RVR was going badly or I just wanted to do something in game I would take off and level another alt... it was almost theraputic.

When I played on Avalon... (solo as usual but will come to that on my own story ;)) I found that as I had a BB with me that leveling the Bonedancer and Shaman was tough... pathing in instances made the whole effort a chore... but then I rolled a Valk a couple of day before maulers were unlocked and within 2 days the valk was 30 odd.

Then the mauler was unlocked and I dropped the valk in favour of some FOTM action... in less than 12 hours the mauler was in mid 30's and within a couple of weeks of casual play I had him to 50... the grind can be fun so long as it's fast paced and interesting.

Remember my first character took me 43 RL days played time to hit 50... thats the joy of solo grinding a Hero with no BB for the 1-40 range with no freelevels etc.

I do think mythic have addressed it... I only hope that they implement the same sort of thing in WAR.

Anonymous said...

i think the best part of WAR will be that there is no real grind in leveling, because in every tear you have influenze to your side.
So you can take your time to get to a high level and can also help your community.
ALEX