Master of Orion and Syp: A Tale of Humanity

“While I prepare for the usual Ysharros defense, Ocho is destroyed.  Again.  Seriously, Ocho?  Can’t you go a day without getting blow’d up?” – Syp from Bio Break

This is quite possibly the best quote ever. And to be fair, being blow’d up is what I do best.

To all of those who haven’t seen yet, a war of epic proportions is being waged over on Bio Break, a war deciding who, truly, is the Master of Orion. And the blow by blow details is surprisingly intense. I mean, we’ve all played them, those faction, strategy based games like Civilization, Sins of a Solar Empire, Heroes of Might and Magic, etc., but Syp is showing us tangentially WHY we find these games so fascinating…

We can create our own stories.

Isn’t that a big component of why we love MMO’s as well? I mean, most of the ones we see today are heavily story based, but yet within these worlds, we create our own narratives. MMO’s without the emphasis on story, like EvE Online, do a tremendous job of creating their own intrigue. EvE‘s recent War in Fountain is one of those stories, culminating in the largest online battle between digital spaceships in history. Even some of the bigger news outlets got in on the fun. But who hasn’t had guild or server stories? I’ll tell you a quick one…

The Red Shirts raid Stormwind and hold the Deeprun Tram tunnels.

My very first World of Warcraft character (and really, my only one), was an Undead Warrior by the name of Ocholivis… hence… Ocho. Anyway, one day early on in my leveling, I joined up with a guild of fantastic people called The Red Shirts. To show our solidarity, we all wore red shirts under our red tabard. This one single thing joined us together in one of the most tightly knit guilds I’ve ever been in. In fact, I still remember the names of some of my closest guildmates, despite it being almost a decade ago. Kant, Kalli, Krem, Thrym, Grimfear, Shugorei, Aiyanna, Thax, Dimensia… the list goes on. These names still mean a lot to me. As a guild, we ran dungeons, we invaded Stormwind, we partook in the endless PvP at Southshore/Tarren Mill, and we just had fun. As Horde, we were outnumbered about 5:1 on our server, but we didn’t care. Our guild was tight. Then… we all hit level 60 around the same time, and things changed.

There was a faction of the guild that wanted to raid and wanted the so called “phat lootz”. However, those of us who didn’t have the time to keep to a set raiding schedule due to real life wanted to keep the guild a casual, fun place. This caused a schism. A subset of the guild decided to break off and form their own guild, The Yellow Jackets, and they wore yellow shirts. Gang warfare ensued. A smear campaign against The Red Shirts was waged, infighting ensued. As more Red Shirts hit level 60 and felt the raiding bug, they left to join the Yellow Jackets. Some wanted to still remain friends and periodically join forces, but not all, and there was a lot of bad blood. I stayed faithful to The Red Shirts, but eventually the guild collapsed into a former shell of itself. For a time, I stopped playing WoW. The game simply stopped being fun for me.

The neverending Tarren Mill / Southshore PvP. Yes, back in 2005, before Battlegrounds and tokens and everything, THIS is where the Warcraft PvP happened.

Since then, I’m still not the raiding type, but the “story”, our own story, that that drama created is something I’ll never forget. What Syp is creating is not the same as an MMO’s drama, but it’s a microcosm of why we love the genre, and I highly suggest you head on over to give it a read.

Among the digital, among the 1’s and 0’s, we are drawn to the humanity.

// Ocho

P.S. – I don’t know if the Red Shirts are still around in any capacity as I’ve stopped playing WoW and switched servers ages ago, but if any of the old Red Shirt clan someday happen upon this post, drop me a line. It’d be great to hear from you guys again. 🙂

P.P.S. – Kinda sorta maybe related, but I wanted to share this as well. It’s the song “Come to Your Senses” from the musical ‘Tick,Tick…Boom!’ by Jonathan Larson. You might remember Larson from his most popular musical ‘Rent’. Well, Larson’s first endeavor, which won him a ton of Awards but was ultimately rejected by the Orwell estate, was a musical called ‘Superbia’, based on the book ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’. This was the big number of ‘Superbia’, in which a woman feels she has lost her friend, whom she communicated with remotely through her headset and video. In the song, she reveals her love to the static-filled screen. … Through technology, humanity.


World of Warcraft Remote is Now Free: A King’s Competition

Obviously, I don’t play World of Warcraft anymore and don’t really intend to get back into it in the future, but I must say their decision to make their mobile offering free is a stroke of genius on their end, and their timing simply couldn’t be better.

The World of Warcraft mobile app is exceptional. It adds the ability to access the auction house, chat with your guild members, check server status, talent calculators, character profiles, etc. Making it free makes it easily the best MMO mobile app on the market, and I’m sure they’ll see plenty of returns on this move. Awesome and well played. (Other developers take notice… having a mobile app for your online game may not be really important now… but that will be changing VERY soon.)

It’s like watching a tennis match. On one side, you have Blizzard with it’s mega-hit veteran World of Warcraft. On the other side, you have ArenaNet with their unproven rookie, albeit with foundation shaking talent, Guild Wars 2.  In the past, when other games have released, Blizzard it seems never batted an eye. And why should they? Just look at their still staggering numbers.

But Blizzard is taking a look at Guild Wars 2, and it’s staring it down. Now, I may be a little shaky on exact details, but here are a few events and counterstrokes that I can remember:

1) ArenaNet tells the world that Guild Wars 2 will launch in 2012 – Blizzard counters by offering it’s players a free copy of Diablo 3 if they purchase a year’s subscription.

2) ArenaNet gives a release date for Guild Wars 2 – Blizzard plans to release a huge content update in preparation of Mists of Pandaria on the exact same day, including the anticipated talent tree changes.

3) ArenaNet will open it’s servers tonight around midnight for official opening of headstart access – Blizzard makes a previous unpopular subscription mobile app which includes guild chat, auction house access, and numerous other perks 100% free.

Possibly ArenaNet’s placement of their game’s release just happens to almost coincide with the September 25th planned Mists of Pandaria release, but a month is a LONG time in this genre, and a month is more than enough time to see the inevitable dropoff from Guild Wars 2,  so release dates seem to favor both sides (and you can see why Lord of the Rings Online has decided to stay as FAR away as possible, now shooting for their Riders of Rohan release of October 15th).

Is there really a winner and loser in all of this? Financially, yes, both companies and their investors are closely watching. To us gamers… no. We all win. I’m sure Guild Wars 2 will launch and be everything people want it to be and more. Mists of Pandaria will launch and also be a much welcome addition to the Warcraft family.

Seeing these manipulations, though, I can’t help but feel a little like a puppet. What will be the next release that’ll pull our strings across the stage? I guess we have to keep watching the show to find out.

\\ Ocho