Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Other Side of Life, On Wondering Why the Word Jejune Isn't Used More Frequently

Sunday, February 15, 2009
Work has been stealing away my evening hours lately. The recent changes to the employee roster means that I'm closing every night now. On top of weekends at the atelier, I haven't been able to log on once these past few weeks. This routine seems as though it'll stay for good, so this is probably it for me as far as Sword goes in the foreseeable future.

Being absent from an MMO evokes an odd feeling for me. I always stop playing an MMO at the height of my expectations for it: new content (Claire), updates (Claire), events (Claire?), etc. It often feels as though I've stopped reading a book at the middle, never knowing how it will end.

It does have its perks, though. Being away from the evergrind has that pleasant feeling of relinquishment. Not being in the constant presence of those who fit under John Gabriel's Greater Internet Dickwad Theory is another bonus. I don't know what the cause is, but Sword seems to have quite a... colorful community.

Well, boring news aside, I leave you for now with this:

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Doldrums, On Tamagotchi

Wednesday, February 04, 2009
I know why AFK leveling feels so familiar to me now. It feels a lot like that damned egg toy. I only need to check up on my pet every now and then to make sure it hasn't died, and I'm good to go.

Incidentally, this Japanese toy-like method of leveling has netted me two more Veterans. I will continue this until Claire decides to let me start her quest.

Meanwhile, I present to you this mellow song:

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Secret Life of Proxies, On Pet Care

Wednesday, January 28, 2009
As the plague of lecture notes and compositions makes itself home in my daily life, time spent in Sword of the New World is spent almost entirely on AFK powerleveling my lower-level characters. Naturally, for an addict, I occasionally veer away from work that needs to be completed, checking up on my characters (who are doing perfectly fine by themselves, thank you very much) and trolling in clan chat with my share of awful puns and childish antics.

The path this game has taken has become a strange experience for me. What used to be an active, mad rush to create a few Veteran characters over the winter break has now become something akin to taking care of low-maintenance pets, like goldfish. I only check up on my characters every now and then to make sure they are not running out of bullets, and to make sure their own pet is fed, all the while waiting for another character to put through the humdrum, AFK leveling rhythm:
It's a routine not too dissimilar from managing and occasionally staring -- for some ungodly reason -- at a fish tank.

There are benefits to having a lot of level 100/Veteran characters, I guess: a high family level, an assortment of crafters, a walk-in closet-like selection of avatars, equipment spread so thin you'll never feel wealthy (okay, so maybe the last one isn't such a benefit). But it's a strange ploy (also, cash cow) on the part of the game's developers to allow for an inventory of many characters, yet making the grind take forever. Instead of reducing experience requirements for each level/promotion, they've implemented what I deem proxy-leveling -- the art of making the game do the leveling for you. When I first heard of the game in Korea, I assumed the hold mode and auto-defend function were a move to undermine botting. Experience tells us this is hardly the case. Even with the advent of pets, bots remain our uninvited cohabitants, as with any MMO. It's really just a way of throwing a time sink at you while you're not even playing.

To be frank, AFK leveling is a pretty terrible idea. Popular areas for AFKing are filled to the brim with idling individuals, milking their precious post for as long as their bullets will allow. Crowding leads to unhealthy brushes with other players, like strangers in a packed, muggy elevator. One might wonder if his characters would revolt when placed in such an environment without proper care or supervision.

Looking beyond patch 3.0 (eventually), there are sixteen or seventeen characters I'd like to level as much as possible (*crosses fingers for Hellena*). As the busyness of the semester waxes, that prospect seems dim unless I find an impressionable child to force into leveling my characters for me. Spinelles, quirky internet connections, and generally unlikeable folk make AFK leveling an overall subpar experience.

But I'd put up with it anyway, if only for this:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Name d'Avalon, On History

Wednesday, January 21, 2009
A major feature that drew me into Sword of the New World is the family barracks and, more precisely, the ability to give your characters surnames. Giving your characters a central, familial identity is new to me in any MMO; normally, you just concentrate on one avatar. With this in mind, I spent a decent amount of time coming up with a good surname for my family -- one that sounds nice and fits in with the world of Granado Espada. Deciding that French (our Granado Espada equivalent is Illier, I think) should be the flavor for my family, I ended up choosing the surname d'Avalon, meaning "of Avalon." I wish the game would let you create those really long names a lot of European nobles had, like Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu, but d'Avalon is fine.

The d'Avalon family hails from Avalon, in Illier. Its patriarch, Le Marquis d'Avalon, saw his coffers diminishing through war, famine and disease, so he decided to move his family and what was left of his assets to the new world, leaving his serfs behind to rot (nobles aren't very nice). He is long deceased, unable to see his successors thrive, but the family has recently found fortune in Granado Espada through the profitable but cutthroat Enchantment Chip trade. Though they are loyal Royalists (nobles, dur), the d'Avalon family has sided with the Republicans of Telos, since it's understandably sexier here.

As it turns out, there actually is a small village in southeastern France called Avalon. A castle exists there, complete with its walled-in village and keep. It's apparently very small -- not the kind of place for a marquis. A notable resident of Avalon was Saint Hugh of Lincoln, a bishop from the Middle Ages. Nothing too interesting, but it's nice to have a name tied to history (and royalty).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The First One, On Posts

Tuesday, January 20, 2009
And what a post it is.
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