All About ziegd
Reflections, Rants and Revelations
...by a game I mean. I'm way behind on new releases, so I'm playing games that come up on STEAM for bargain prices. So I just finished Mass Effect 1 around last Christmas, and did ME2 at the first of the year. Great games, both, btw.
Then I moved on to Assassins Creed, Bioshock 2, etc....and I'm currently in the middle of several campaigns of Kingdoms for the Total War series (like I said...way behind)...
When I suddenly got a strangely over-whelming urge to play a segment out of ME2...specifically, Jack's loyalty mission (for those of you that know the game).
Now, I didn't think that was a particularly great mission (although they're all good), but it wasn't my favorite by any means. But I'm still feeling compelled to play it again.
It haunts me...I'm getting OCD about it. I think I'm going to have to abandon my run as Apache and find a save where I can repeat Jack's OMG run just to get it out of my head.
Over the past year, I've been playing games like Fallout 3, couple of Total War entries, Vampire: The Masquerade, and most recently, multiple runs of Mass Effect 1 and 2. This last week, I started to move on to some new ones (well, new for me)...some older titles like Assassins Creed 1 and 2, Bioshock 2, Dead Space 2...all games that I thought I was anxious to play.
So, I was installing and checking them out, when I sorta...noticed something. It kept kicking around in my head the last couple of days, but I still wasn't sure I was going to do anything with it. Then early this morning, I was running along the boardwalk...(wait a minute...at my weight class, maybe "running" isn't accurate. Jogging, maybe? Or lumbering?...yea, that's it...at 240 lbs, it's more like lumbering. I have to do it real early so I don't scare the tourists).
Anyway, something happened that made me feel compelled to write this down. More on that later.
Now, whenever I start up a new game, I like to visit the associated forum first, just to see if there are any "need to know" items, like tips or recommendations for first-timers. I also like to check out who's playing, see if there are any familiar faces.
First stop, the Dead Space 2 forum.
There was one thread, with two posts. Some guy wanted to know what difficulty setting he should choose if he planned to play the whole game while stoned. The one responder was kind enough to suggest that Normal should be fine. (Really? Game is barely a year old, and that's the only topic of discussion? Not a good sign.)
OK...on to Bioshock 2.
No threads. Zero. Nadda. Zilch. This game is two years old, and there's no new players coming on board? No veterans who are still playing? No one? A little disappointing, but not nearly as much as the next stop. At least there still IS a "Bioshock 2 for PC" forum.
When I went to check up on Assassins Creed 1 and 2, there were NO forums for those games for the PC. Near as I can tell, they've been lumped into a catchall category called "Assassins Creed Universe Discussion Forum", or some such. And apparently, most people there are simply talking about AC 3. No one seems to be playing the first two entries anymore. Granted, these two titles are a bit older, bit I still thought they were popular enough to attract continued interest.
Now, before anyone concludes that I'm going off on something about game longevity or whatever, let me say...no. That's not my point. My point is that I noticed something. About myself. When I bought these games, I was anxious to play them. But all of a sudden, I became somewhat ambivalent. Why? They're still highly rated games, right? They still have great stories, production values, game play, graphics...so what made me lose interest? Could it be the lack of activity in the forums? No players? No one to talk to?
I've just come off a year of playing great games that are anywhere from 3 to 8 years old, but still have active...communities. Lots of new players coming aboard, lots of veterans still engaged, interesting discussions and ideas being exchanged. I saw a lot of the same faces in those different forums...people I know and respect, people whom I trust. Hell, I bought Vampires: The Masquerade Bloodlines on the recommendation of joefitts63, a guy I know from the FO3 forum, and it turned out to be my sleeper hit of the decade. The game is eight years old, but there's still a great community devoted to it.
The thing is, I need those people. I need to be able to share some of the zany experiences, or strange encounters. I need to be able to ask questions, or participate in lively, informative discussions. It's not so important that they be familiar faces, just that there be some faces. That's a big part of what makes gaming fun for me these days.
Ten years ago, I could've cared less. The only time I went to a game site or forum was when I got stuck, or needed some technical advice. Maybe once every couple of weeks. Now, my daily gaming session isn't complete until I visit the board to recount some of the day's experiences, or pick up some tips, or offer some advice.
The vast majority of my friends are not gamers, and the couple that are...well...we're usually off doing our own things, so we're rarely playing the same thing at the same time. So the discussion, the sense of community, the people...things which have become such an essential part of my total gaming experience...must come from the forums. No forums, no people. No people, no talk. No talk, less fun. Period.
So, what's the point of all this? Hell, I don't know...probably no point. Other than I realize how much my gaming habits have changed over the years. The fact that I'm not looking forward to Dead Space 2 nearly as much as I was before discovering the absence of the "people" element speaks volumes as to it's value to me. I'll still play it, I'll still enjoy it, but it'll be like playing it all my myself in a remote cabin...
on a deserted island...
on an uncharted planet...
in a galaxy far, far away...
Makes me wonder if maybe I take some things for granted. Like running water, or electricity...I don't really notice them until I no longer have them. So I think I'll try and remember that. I'm gonna try to be a little more appreciative of those communities when I encounter them. Maybe try to contribute more...be an upstanding citizen and all that. After all, even if I'm not a veteran-expert, or I'm unable to contribute to the technical discussions, I can still always help out with the troll beat-downs. And for right now, that's good enough for me.
Oh...and what happened this morning?
So like I said, I was out for my morning lumber when I spotted something in the distance...a flock of birds coming in low over the boardwalk ahead of me. Seagulls, I thought. Rats with wings. You can't eat a sandwich on the beach without getting pooped on by one of those nasty bastards. I hate 'em.
But then I noticed something. Seagulls are disorderly, noisy, chaotic. These guys were silent, and they were gliding along in perfect harmony. As they got closer, I realized they weren't seagulls, but Pelicans. Brown Pelicans, which aren't rare by any means, but I've never seen such a large group, around 20 or so, flying right over the boardwalk so far from the water. And as they passed overhead, no more than 30-40 feet in the air, spaced an even foot or two apart, massive wings stretched out 5 feet across, all I could think was...perfect.
I don't know where they were going, or how far they'd come. But I do know that they work as a unit...when the point-man gets tired, he'll drop to the back, where the slipstream makes it easier to coast along for a while, and someone else will take the lead. Although I'm sure they could all get to wherever they're going on their own, they prefer to be part of a group. It's not much fun to fly alone.
Much better in a community.
I've been meaning to start up a Blog since day one of my membership, and now that I've been a member for over 4 years, I figured it was time to get started. The title of my Blog is:
Reflections, Rants and Revelations
This will simply be my own personal observations, opinions, pet peeves, and possibly an occasional tidbit of insight into the world of gaming. My first entry is a Reflection...something simple I started thinking about 3 years ago, but never bothered writing down. It's a little outdated for me, but since I told myself it was going to be my first entry, I'm following thru with it now.
When I first started participating in this (and other) game sites and forums, too often I found myself getting embroiled in some inane on-line argument, coming away feeling agitated or flat-out pissed off at some faceless name from the internet. I soon realized that this was just plain dumb, since all it did was detract from my enjoyment of the time I spent on the site.
So I came up with a sort of mental checklist, or "rules", that I would use to govern my actions on these boards. Note that I do NOT propose that these are some kind of absolute maxims that everyone should adhere to...they're just mine. Any readers will see these as common sense, or common courtesy. But sometimes I need a little reminder to keep me from engaging in pointless verbal jousting with some troll or clown who is just looking to get me riled up.
So for what it's worth, here are my Rules of Engagement.
Rule 1: Don't Take ANYTHING Seriously.
I mean, it's the Internet for God's sake. Letting something get under my skin that was typed in by somebody half a world away is just moronic on my part.
Rule 2: Don't Get Involved in ANY Debates About Religion, Politics, PC vs. Consoles, or Morrowind vs. Oblivion.
These controversies have been raging for centuries (well...Religion and Politics, anyway), and nothing has ever, nor WILL ever get resolved in a game forum. Even reasonable, intelligent discussions on these topics ultimately devolve into juvenile flame-wars once the uninformed start getting involved and voice their uneducated opinions. Better to just stay out of it.
Rule 3: Never Say Anything in the Forums That I Wouldn't Say In Person.
I swear, there are a lot of people around who think that just because they're safely wrapped in the cocoon of anonymity provided by the Internet, common courtesy doesn't apply. Before I hit the "Submit" button on any post, I always make sure it's something I would have no problem saying if the person was in the room.
Rule 4: Be Judicious With the Use of Sarcasm.
Because it's the written word, people can't see my body language or facial expressions, or hear the intonation in my voice. Something I think is witty or funny may come across as offensive or insulting to someone who can't tell I'm kidding.
Rule 5: "It's Better To Remain Silent And Be Thought A Fool Than To Speak Up And Remove All Doubt."
I think it was Confucius who said that. If I don't know the answer, I shouldn't post one. On many occasions, I have expounded some great truths, only to subsequently be proven wrong. Not only do I mislead the original poster...I make myself look like an idiot. (OK...I admit it...it's kinda cool to be viewed as the "resident expert" on some topic or game. Dolling out mis-information calls into question any good advice I may have given out previously.)
Rule 6: Remember That Everyone Was a "Noob" at Some Point.
With so many super-smart, super-experienced folks running around these forums, who know everything about everything, it's sometimes easy to forget that not everyone is an expert. Some people are new...to forums, gaming, hardware, etc. Be gentle with them. To paraphrase a passage from the Bible..."Be kind to strangers, because sometimes you're a stranger too."
Rule 7: The Golden Rule
Self-explanatory. I always try to treat everyone with the same consideration and respect I want to be treated with. Because karma comes back to you, good or bad.
Footnote...Final Rule: Don't go into the forums when drinking, because all the above rules go out the window, and I end up getting TOS violations.
So.... there it is...my first Blog entry. No big deal. Common sense to most people, but I've been meaning to write it down for 3 years. Not a Rant, and certainly not a Revelation. Just a Reflection on my mental checklist that keeps me happy while posting. Now I can move on to more serious issues, like why isn't there as much innovation in game design as there was 3-4 years ago? I'll have to give that some thought