Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ride Astride the Beast: Levels 15-20

Having played through levels 1-15 of World of Warcraft, it would only be fair to finish up the levels I am allotted. Unfortunately, it was discovered that this is only till level 20, and that the adventures of Myrdo would end well before they began. This shorter post will include more about experience with the first dungeons, an important facet of World of Warcraft, and PvP. 

As was revealed before, my experience with MMOs is rather widespread, yet not complete. Dungeons are not foreign, and they tend to follow a simple formula gained from their parent genre, the RPG. You go into some deep dark place, either a cave or taken structure, then you and your allies must stay close together to clear it of its tough enemies and bosses without dieing. In World of Warcraft, this is no different.

In fact, my first experience with one of these dungeons was by mistake, Ragefire chasm. Having leveled up my character to 12, I went into a portal at the bottom of Oggrimar, the capital city for the Horde. When Zigglez and I entered, we saw a worm only a level above us, and we attacked it. The worm killed both of us, only nearly dieing. The room was full of duplicate creatures. We decided that we would come back at level 14, and get revenge on this creature. We did so, again fighting that one worm, and with all of our abilities spent, we killed it. We were proud, and managed to kill 6 more.

When we hit level 15, we entered the dungeon queue to go in as a group. All three of us, since Witrig was with us, entered as DPS characters, or damage per second characters. This dungeon finder is a fun mechanic, it allows players to jump right to a dungeon that they want to do, even if they have never visited it. For those who appreciate the in character elements of a game though, this is a travesty. There is no need for exploration to find a difficult dungeon, they are all listed, and the game will then teleport you halfway across the game world just to go destroy the enemies there, even if you have no idea what story lead your character to be there.

It was done though, and soon our tank, the character meant to take the brunt of the damage, charged into the chasm and started to fight several worms at once. The three of my personal allies all went in to destroy the creatures, and in a flurry of attack animations, they were all dead, the tank barely hurt with the assistance of the healer behind him. Yet, I felt no great satisfaction, I simply stood behind an enemy, and did what I do until they were all laying on the ground so we could collect their loot. Killing them one by one, each of them monstrous villains, was better than this... slaughter. Soon we met bosses, and each fell a slight bit slower. Since ragefire chasm was part of my actual storyline, I knew that these people were part of the burning blade, were demon summoners. We ripped each of the bosses to shreds, and any damage on us was short lived.

I will mention that after this we did Shadowfang keep, a dungeon that has been altered from its original form as a werewolf filled keep. The reason for this is because those werewolves, are now a playable race, so the story has changed to their keep being overrun by the undead. I did not participate in most of this dungeon, because the game is slow to download its elements on my crappy internet connection. It took me at least 8 minutes to load, if not more. Then when I died, as our tank and healer were not nearly as good this time, it took another 15 minutes or more to load the world outside of the dungeon. Both of these places I never visited before, so the game had no reason to think I would need to download them in advance. It was still quite irritating.

As for the other game element, PvP, I cannot say I know why anyone would participate. This was level 19 PvP mind you, very early in the game. Yet, every fight felt like a wandering slaughter. The fight moved from one place to another, both sides flinging status effects at one another like fear and disorient, that eliminated that character from the fight. If the DPS on one side decided a character would be dead, they were then dead very fast. Personally, my Rogue could do very little, as whenever I tried to attack, everyone would turn to me and have me dead in seconds. The PvP in Warhammer Online and other Everquestian MMOs have a similar feel, yet this truly felt like the lowest of the low. 

When I reached level 20, the quest in the game seemed to get a slight bit more engaging. Not that they took any thought, they were still stagnant elements all built to make me fight a different sort of monster. Yet the feel of them because a little more serious, at the very least, as I entered the Ashenvale. 

This all doesn't matter though, as my time as Myrdo is done. The game capped me at level 20, so moving forward would be suicide. So in the meantime, as my trial finishes, I have moved to playing a Dwarf Paladin, for a different view of the situation. The life of Dezuun the Dwarf will need to be covered later though.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ride Astride the Beast: Levels 1-15

Taking something apart always reveals its flaws, always shows it wanting. Yet it is also important for figuring out exactly what we want, why, and what should be done about it. So WoW will be examined, and the whole of the MMORPG genre will be examined with it. Because when we examine MMOs, we must examine World of Warcraft, or we are skipping a vital step, ignoring the largest sample.

For this two parts will be required. First this post will examine World of Warcraft in particular, in its first few levels and its structure. Then this will be reflected onto all MMOs, since WoW is just the poster-child, not a single child.

The other day I started my game as an Orc rogue. This choice was partly my own feelings toward the best race, and partly going for a standard experience. Orcs are the central race for their side, the center of 'the horde'. Yet rogues are not the standardized MMO experience, that would be Mage or Warrior.

I'll start by saying that the character creator in this game is ancient. Sure WoW came out in 2004, but that is no excuse for having a character creator that is simply a choice between 5 hairstyles, 5 faces, and 4 skin shades. I didn't even need to see another player, and I already felt like I looked exactly like everyone else. This feeling of being 'just one of many' continued as I picked up the same items as my other leather wearing allies, and did the same quest which the dialogue made seem was special for me. 

Now what some may not know is that WoW has had some changes because of the upcoming release of their new expansion, Cataclysm. The content from level 1-60 has been modified, down to how you gain points as you level up. So imagine my surprise when the big change in my starting area was, as I heard another player say, the boars I had to kill constantly were in a pen instead of roaming. This was the same beginning as many other fantasy MMO, killing animals and other pest that every NPC around you should be capable of killing. The game tries to make you sound like the chosen one in dialogue, yet any NPC you see at work is obviously better at their task than you are. Your character has no place in the natural order, which goes directly against the idea of being an RPG. This is likely my number one complaint about WoW, and many MMOs. The only thing about the game that has me 'Role-playing' is that I fill a very specific role in a combat group, either healer, tank, or DPS.

But I will spend more time on that later. The trial of World of Warcraft is in particular, offensive. The game's system because a wasteland, your character a phantom in the middle of real people. This is not a trial, this is a single player game plugged into the middle of a multiplayer game. You cannot talk except in tells to certain people, you cannot trade around gold (this one I understand because of mules), and worst of all you cannot invite people to groups. For a game, a genre, built upon social interaction this trial is built to stop it at every turn.

Which is okay, since these levels are all about being an errand boy of the NPCs around you. From collecting cactus apples to killing scorpions, only half the quest I did ever felt like something important. I dealt with the burning blade, and the Northwatch patrols, but they somehow made these things that should have been profound, feel like dummies assisting in a practice exercise. It doesn't help that your kills are far from permanent, with enemies spawning around you within a minute of you slaughtering them. 

Then an aesthetic complaint, mounts and cities. The wandering hordes of level 80 players should be something awe-inspiring in a game. These people have worked hard, and their characters are the true champions, people doing the most dangerous things for their faction. So it saddened me to see them look like goofballs, riding go-karts and motorcycles while wearing costumes to look like pirates and goblins (note goblins were not playable as of this posting). This makes going through large towns, like Ogrimmar, a bother. Every time I went into town, I was pulled out of the already lofty setting. Not that WoW didn't try hard to pull me out by itself, with a world of blades and spells being back to back with stealth camo generators and rockets to the moon. Blizzard makes it very clear they don't want you to take their setting seriously.

There was a lot of good in here too though. I managed to get a group by playing with a friend with an actual account, so there were times I could actually group up. It was fun filling my role, to manipulate stealth and try to only fight one or two characters at a time. Thorn hill, and other razormane related locations out in the barrens, turned out to be the most enjoyable. There were plenty of enemies to kill, and because of the sparse population, it felt like there was a reason I was out there doing the dirty work, which all related to killing specific targets. There was also a subplot of the survival of the Razormane, as a people, which was of course largely ignored. There was also good fun in Azshara, but that fun was stifled by the fact that none of it felt like it fit in the setting. When I'm walking a mech around to fight people, and then doing quest for hyper-intelligent raptors, I have no idea where I am anymore, or what to expect.

All MMOs tend to have similar problems to this, missions not seeming important, and really slow starts. Yet I would expect better from the big daddy of MMOs, especially with how often it has been changed. In Warhammer online, most races start off fighting legit threats, fighting off a siege or pulling raids against the enemies of your race. City of Heroes starts off being about crime fighting, so its version of fighting boars is fighting basic street criminals who can't do much but try to punch you. 

The biggest problem here is the lack of role-playing, something that plagues just about every MMO except maybe Eve Online. By role-playing I do not mean pretending you are the little girl, I mean having a full investment in your character, and having control over their fate and story. In an MMO, often the quest will dictate to you a story that you may not want to take part in, which is okay if there are multiple paths, or your character has multiple ways to apply him to the problem. If someone tells me to take care of a target, and I can kill or persuade them, stab them to death or blow them up, I have options. In World of Warcraft, as in Warhammer Online and City of Heroes, there are a select few paths of where my character will go. My rogue will be of one of three specializations, and his gear will be to exemplify that, and my quest will all lead to the end game content. In Eve, at a point, the quest don't matter anymore. I can become a miner, I can be a CEO of a business, run special ops, or drive a giant ship into battle. The quest, at least early on, do not try to lead you anywhere. You are simply one of many, and the game knows this. You are not unique, you are not a butterfly, if you don't do this quest then someone else will.

These observations and complaints are all for a specific group of players though. For many, MMOs are about the group combat and challenges. I understand this as a person who played a game built around that from top to bottom, Guild Wars. Yet when I play a game that attempts to have a story, I hope to find enough in there to satiate me, and push me forward. World of Warcraft has failed in that respect, so far.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ride Astride the Beast: Myrdo's Humble Start

The time was now, and what a time it was. I did not know much, but what I did know was that a great beast struck our borrowed home, that even the barren land we Orcs called home was ruined by the mere stretch of its wings. I also knew that now was my coming of age, and that today I truly joined the horde, no longer young and wet, now a strong young blood. Soon all would know the name of Myrdo Reargut the Rogue, son of Tarn Reargut.

So I struck out to the North, to find the Valley of Trials. There I hoped to put to the test the axiom of my father, That any situation could be solved with the proper application of a blade to a spine. Of course Pa always said it as "Wrench guts, win lots". A practical man my Pa, a trait that won him the nicest grave in town. 

As I trekked the Valley to its center, I crossed the discarded shells of the spoils of others. Spent men, empty carcases. I did not see another Orc there in those fields, but it was obviously many trampled the ground in front of me. So I continued on.

There in the center of the Valley I found my mentor, a small and angry man, prone to repeating himself in identical blood thirsty yells. He seemed keen to make a man of me, and it seemed the best way to do so was to dull my blade against the backs of many beast. Very many beast. First were the boars, doing the work of some peon who looked on in slack toothed glee as I slaughtered his pigs by the dozen. When this was enough, I moved to Scorpids, a beast that before I only killed for desperate meals. Now I made a feast of them, and a river of their venom.

When I found my brow wet with sweat and my stiletto slick with gore, I was finally given a true task. Thazz'rill, or Old Thazzy as he was so often called, told me of a secret. The humans, who we so recently made peace with, were in our lands again. There were scouts from Northwatch scattered across the Valley of Trials, and I was to introduce them all to my Pa's particular creed. The sun set early on many men, some carrying boxes, some carrying boxes with big crosses on them, and others shooting faulty guns, yet each found their death before my blade. Though they cut into me as well, some with blades, some with lead, I found myself invigorated by the exercise. Every time the battle found its climax, so did my being, and I was renewed. 

I was not alone though, and I do not think I could have finished the trials without friends both old and new. Old Zigglez Strumdoom, or just Zigg for short, a true shot who could calm any beast. Witrig Shadeheart, a frightening warlock whose introduction to the hordes forces fell on the same day. Then finally Mahou, or Little Miss Mahou as she preferred to be called, an enigma of a caster, driven yet queer.

Together we flew across the red landscape I called home, and slay anything with a back to prove our worth. At the end Old Thazzy gave me a letter, a recruitment letter to join the Hordes forces defending the barrens. That was a place I knew by name, yet not by sight. Its reputation proceeded it by miles, and my body quaked in fear, while my blade quivered in anticipation.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ride Astride the Beast: Prologue and Explanation

Among those who call themselves gamers, by social permission or through an equal transcendence in respect of the medium, there is a great distinction between persons. A gamer either plays WoW, that is Blizzard's World of Warcraft, or they do not. At 12 million subscriptions, WoW's numbers outrank all the state of Ohio, and dwarf my own home state. Its players range from the light-hearted social player who takes the game an hour at a time, to the hardened warrior who ranks the in-game raids just below breathing and right above defecation. With its large audience, wide appeal, and addictive framework, WoW is the behemoth of its genre, the kodo beast in the room if you will allow me to get into the mood.

It is also a game that I have never played, and had no intention of playing. Between my arrogance, ignorance, and need to hate on anything more popular than myself, I have never given World of Warcraft its fair chance. I have judged the game on its players, on its culture, and any other object I could use to differentiate it from myself. But as with the motto of the Royal Society, "nullius in verba", I realize now that I should "take no one's word for it". I will confront the beast first hand, and though I dangle myself before its horrid white flesh, my hope is to come out with limbs and sanity intact. This I do out of a sense of duty, pride, and boredom. 

As a man of 23 years, I was playing video games before I stopped wetting the bed. Mario was my babysitter, and Dragon Warrior 3 my tutor. My genre of choice are Strategy and RPGs, the second rather important to this exercise with WoW placing itself within the 'Role-Playing Games' genre with its MMORPG subgenre classification. My MMO credentials run a range of games, recent and old; Ultima Online, City of Heroes, Guild Wars, Warhammer Online, Planetside, Dungeons and Dragons Online, and trials of Lord of the Rings Online, Pirates of the Burning Sea, APB, and the Matrix Online. These games usually have similar buildings blocks, mostly the prototypical MMOs of Ultima Online and Everquest, yet all have their own twist.

To come at this game, I will play as one character for a 10 day trial, possibly more if the game warrants it. I will play with as many friends as I can manage to play with, to create the proper setting and social interaction an MMO requires. My server of choice will be Destromath, my faction Horde. From here I had to make a hard choice, since race and class will definitely warp my playing experience. Yet I have played enough MMOs to know what will interest me, and to know how to overcome in game challenges. So because of this I will play an Orc Rogue, not because this is a particularly good combination, but because it is what interest me.

This page will chronicle my time in the game. I will at times post in character in a fashion I hope will be considered humorous, others I will post out of character to summarize my experiences from that of a man who has played games for over 15 years of his life. I hope to have everyone's support in this, both during and in the aftermath of what will be my greatest flirtation with darkness since I, as a teetotaller, took a shot at a christmas party.

I cross my fingers that this all goes well, for the love of the game, for the sake of fairness, and most of all for the horde.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Digitism (Worldbuilding)

I've been on a quest for modern gods. First with the Virtue project (Lord Uertu stuff on this very blog) and before that I had other ideas that never made their way outside of a writing journal (things based on colors, an old fashioned goddess of creation).

Often my idea isn't to create something that would be useful, simply something that is memorable. If it is only memorable to me, so be it. What I consider memorable though, is likely my main problem. This is not the focus of this post though.

My most recent idea is to create modern gods. I know this has been done before, so originality is not a goal that is set on my plate (thank all that is good). So that requires thinking about what makes a 'god', and why we make them. It seems that gods have likely always served one primary purpose, the purpose of every supernatural, to explain things that cannot be explained. When lightning was still a frightening and terrible thing, there must have been something that set it upon the world, and it had to have a purpose. As people realize that is not the case, guys like Zeus, Odin or Raijin, don't really have the same flare that they used to (sorry guys. Especially you Raijin, love the drums).

Man has now learned so much, only to realize there is still so much we do not know. The things that relate to our lives though, our everyday, it all makes sense to us. To most of us, it makes sense scientifically (even if we don't know the highest details). I am no longer afraid that a demon is going to come sit on my chest, I may have sleep paralysis though, lightning is now a facet of nature and mermaids are just the drunken ramblings of seamen.

So why make gods now? If I was going to make an excuse for my behavior, I'd say it is just for my own entertainment. If I was going to be completely truthful, I'd say it is out of a vain hope to strike gold, to implant my own piece of truth and reality into another human being. Instead I'll say that we could use it. Not in the way that we need some sense of morals, but I like having things to believe in, and what better to believe in then reality?

I'll go over what brought me to these concepts on another day, but in the meantime, I figure I should look at some of these 'Gods'. I call this digitism (in defiance of Internetology and things with the same name) because of numbers. My main goal has been to align the numbers, things that are inherently true, with other things that we consider reality now in the present (though not necessarily also true). The goal is to avoid directly relating to one culture, gender, people. They should be about our planet in general, in a way that they could be seen in many different ways (and I will give some of my mental pictures as I go I guess). These gods would and do have purviews (things that they relate to, control), but I have to work those out for a lot of them.

0 - Cheating its way to the first slot is 0. The troublesome one. Related to nothingness, oblivion, destruction (though maybe not death). 0 is the first number, but did not come first. 0 adds nothing to the world, 0 always takes away or leaves things as they are, or completely invalidates. As a character, 0 is the jealous sibling, the grand force that puts itself at the head, yet is often overlooked. In appearance, I see very little 'appearance' at all, cloaks of black and white, or possibly melding into whatever surrounding is there (take all or take nothing). Around 0, things decay, fall away.

1 - Originally imagined as the godhead, 1 is still the prime. 1 is the start, the beginning, the alpha. When we have a thing, we have 1, when we have many things, they still came from 1. 1 is truth and 1 is greatness, because when you put something with 1 you gain that same thing back. In character, 1 and 0 are the siblings (though 0-9 are all 'related' in their position), because they are both first. They share this position, but 1 truly holds the position, while 0 holds it on technicality. 1 is of course, the loneliest number, and I see it as proud and arrogant (we are number 1). In appearance 1 should show its pride, but not flaunt it. It does not need to scream that it is the first, everyone knows it, respects it.

2 - The companion. Originally imagined as the wife, it is instead simply the 2nd, the helper, the assistant. It is also the first in line that truly helps things grow, so for that it is the multiplier. While 0 and 1 remain stagnant, 2 creates. Even if something is made up of 0s and 1s, it must have at least 2 numbers there to mean something more. Marriage, dating, sex, conversation, blending, the things that start with at least 2 things, are 2's to control. They are also often things of creation. In character, 2 is warm, often inviting, yet still divided. Unlike the siblings, 2 is less unified, and represents the basic aspect of being divided through subtle hints toward the hostility between two people.

3 - Once there was three, there was a conspiracy. 3 is the outsider, the one that holds things up from outside the spotlight. 3 contains vital things, like Pi, but at once is unwilling to divulge everything. Jealousy is 3's purview, moreso than 0. As is the circle and triangle, important shapes that also give 3 control of math. In character, 3 is a thinker, and a sneak. It knows much more than it lets on, and always has something more to add if it could only be pressed.

5 - The number of (hu)man. Though man is defined by all the first ten in some fashion, man belongs to 5. Our hands and feet that make us industrious are from 5, and so 5 is the number of industry. In character, 5 is devoted to humans (though not necessarily humanity) and other mammals. It is a builder, a factory worker, a crafter. In appearance it looks like the hard work it does, often in work clothes of heavy apron or hardhat.

That's all for now. Some basic ideas I shot up in the last few hours. Though other ideas gained from friends: more digits dilutes divine-ness. So two digits are demigods, and three may simply be supernatural creatures. The digits within a person shows its relation (ex. 10 is the offspring of the siblings). Oh well, later folks.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Agamemdork (Working Title)

A work in progress.


 It all began two weeks prior as King Chuck, lord of many, toured the halls of his domain. King Chuck was known as a good King, protective of his own, and fair to all those who came to him. For two years he had reigned, yet already his rule was coming to a close.

  As he walked the halls, friends and allies around him, a desperate form appeared before him. The young man fell to his knees before Chuck, breath heavy and eyes low. His clothing said he had run far, his body damp and swollen. 

“Chuck, something's wrong,” said the boy, “They came and took her.”

The crowd of allies bent themselves in shock, a cloud of gasp filled the small hall to bursting.

“They wouldn't dare,” Chuck said.

The boy bowed his head, “They dare.”

“Where? How?”

“While she addressed the chess club, Chuck,” the boy said, “We defended her, but they were many. She was surely taken down-”

“No more, I won't hear of it.”

Yet there was much more to come, and all news spoke to the truth. Mary Mcguffin, fair lady of the Nerds, was taken. There was no mistaking this as anything less than a slight against the realms of Nerd, Dork and Dweeb. Across Homer Prep, every King and Queen knew that this meant war, and that King Chuck, Nerd of Nerds, would not stand down until his great lady was returned. 

Now they met, Princes and Dukes of Nerd, in the libraries sanctuary.

“Here me now,” Chuck said, many bespectacled eyes watching him intently, “I Chuck, Nerd of Nerds, ask you to join me in this quest. For our very core is under assault.”

“They took Mary!” Shouted the Duke of AV.

“They must pay!” Said the Prince of Chess.

“Yeah, screw those dicks!” Said the Duchess of Anime.

The nerds were in a riot, and glasses fogged with rage. The crowd was silenced by one among them rising. It was the Prince of Drama.

“Shamus,” Chuck said, “You dare speak here?”

Shamus, lord of Drama nerds, bowed to his audience. A smile crossed his face that chilled even Chuck, then he walked to the head of the crowd.

“I speak, oh great Chuck, for the sake of my brothers and sisters here now.”
The crowd grew quiet, eyes narrowed and bodies tensed.

“I ask,” Said Shamus, “Does this Mcguffiin mean so much, that we must all be dragged into your foolhardy conflict?”

Voices erupted yet again. This time in two tones, two groups, the kingdom of obsession shattered as always. Even thrown together in their lot, voices rose from all sides.

“She was a bitch to me.” One said.

“She remembered my name,” said another.

“She didn't come to my birthday.”

“-Totally hot-”

“-Her level 80 palladin-”


“Silence,” Chuck said, “Who questions me? Who has read more comics than me? Who thinks they know more star trek quotes than me? Who thinks they know better?”


So, a mock epic using cliqs. I want to change the title to something like Agamemdork: Of the Forais Epic. 


"To their dark pit of labor, colusseum of sweat"


I imagine Chuck as  a true nerd among nerds. Maybe wearing a cape, and having two pocket protectors. Glasses are also important.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

On Fetishes

While sex is considered one of the taboo topics in common conversation, a discussion may be required related to fetishes, in this case sexual fetishes. This topic relates back to the understanding held between individual people within a society, communication, and taboo.

Before fetishes can be discussed though, definition is required. In common vernacular there are two ways that fetish is used, interchangeably. People use fetish when saying that a person may only gain arousal using that particular subject or object. The other usage is an object that is unrelated to sex, yet causes arousal for the owner of the fetish. Because the first is uncommon, and speaks to a deeper psychological situation, it will not be discussed.  

When speaking of fetishes, it is not important to know exact fetishes, just that there are many. A fetish must be something that cannot be a normal indicator of possible sexual prowess or reproductive prowess. The average human being judges possible partners on what they deem to be indicators of this 'prowess', often secondary gender indicators (breast, hips, muscle mass and facial hair). Because we are social creatures, there is also the possibility of reproductive prowess, which shows that a partner will not only make good kids, but have the stability to raise them (money, power, motherly instinct and kindness). Considering these the benchmark which humans use for arousal benchmarks, we can determine what is and is not a fetish. Yet, when listing fetishes, some things that should be related to reproductive prowess will still be considered a fetish, because they are commonly defined as such.

It is impossible to list all fetishes, because as soon as someone attempts to, more will be hiding in the minds of those who do not wish to reveal them. Yet these deviations from the average sexual behavior will fall into groups: feature fixation, control, non-sexual fluids, appearance, food, behavior. Note that because sexual relationships are often between two or more people, all of these categories work both ways. For instance, control, which is one person having an undue amount of power over another, can be a thrill for both the one with power and the one without power. For those that found that obvious, realize that it also works the other way, with a fetish requiring no thrill on the part of one partner.  

The most interesting aspect of fetishes is the level of disgust they gain from society at large. It seems that fetishes have levels of understanding, a fetish becoming more common and understood by a society will cause people to consider it not only normal, but possible to discuss (when the taboo of talking sex has already been crossed). This is a case of cognitive dissonance. Unless otherwise told, human beings consider their actions both average and acceptable. Because sex is a taboo topic, it is often only discussed when it has been breached by people who are already close. In this case, fetishes that are brought up may match, or the fetish owner may find out that their actions are not accepted by the group. Yet, as long as the topic is not brought up, and the fetish owner finds no other way to see the level of acceptance of his fetish, they will consider what they do more acceptable, even if it is still only done behind closed doors. As an example, someone who is fixated on feet (features fixation) may find it odd that someone is turned on by smoking (behavior fetish), and may find it disgusting to eat food off of someone (food fetish). Yet, the owner of each other fetish may share the same opinion of the someone fixated on feet. Each one considers themselves more acceptable, and finds no reason to accept the others. It is also possible to know of more fetishes, and to find them acceptable even if you do not have that fetish yourself. 

For some the better question may be why. To some, fetishes are signs of deviancy, which of course they are. Deviance simply means difference from the cultural norms, moving away from what is seen as average. Because the average is such a small range, with most people having a feature that is indeed not average, this means that the word deviancy, which commonly has a negative connotation, deserves no such thing. When everyone is a deviant in some way, deviant is the norm. Yet this does not answer why they exist. There is no way to rationalize all fetishes, yet there are general rationalizations that can cover why some come into existence. Often this is a case of conditioning, which all humans are subject to. When we relate something to prowess, even when it is not commonly an indicator of prowess, it becomes a fetish.

Some fetishes may come into existence through taboo. In society we hide things for the sake of comfort and hygiene, and also because exposing them can cause arousal to others without trying to. So things that are kept hidden because of hygiene may become a fetish because it is so often hidden (feature fixation like feet, non-sexual fluids). It is also possible that an act may put a person into a thrill, causing a rise in the chemicals that are also used during sex (non-sexual fluids, control, behavior). Others may be a matter of ego, wanting control or wanting control of situations because you often already do, or because you usually do not (control, non-sexual fluids, behavior, food). Finally, a feature may be considered sexual simply because it was once before. Humans are creature of habit, conditioning, and vague memory, so when something was fun once we tend to believe that it will be so again (feature fixation, appearance, behavior), like having your first experience with someone who smoked all the time may lead to considering all people who smoke more attractive.  

The most important aspect of fetishes is that they can cause a person to suffer due to lack of communication between peers, and leaving things unspoken. They are an important aspect of a person's identity, and when they are put down or hidden they can become a darker aspect of a person's character. On top of this, finding a long time partner, only to discover that they do not like your fetish, can be problematic for relationships in a variety of ways. This is the greatest horror of the sex taboo, and the level of moral persecution that come from talking openly about sex, arousal, and everything that comes with it. Maybe this would be a good discussion for later.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Things That May Never See the Light of Day

The following are all short tidbits from my little book that I write stuff in. Some have greater stories they belong to, some are just random things I wrote down because they felt interesting.


"Sometimes things do go well, sometimes life is perfect, and in our madness we wish for chaos."

'halls filling quickly with the flock of students, each of us so common in our uniqueness. Handpicked shirts from a sweatshop, limited edition shoes fresh from the warehouse.'

(Some story I never finished)


I'd say my kindness to friend's ears,

Though they would prob'ly find it queer.

So it means zilch.

But not really.

(Another valentine poem)


She had a message written on her sweatpants rear, and as I learned, her crotch and each nipple as  well. I had to circle her to read each tidbit, from right to left nip, front to back. It said "Do" "Not" "Dare" "Read This". A cute joke, clever little girl.

(Don't even know yet)


I liked that, your gift

You gave so freely,

As a shff shff reaches my ears,

As my tongue reaches yours,

As you hold your breath trying to tie it down,

But I want that too,

For free,

So to plunderr it I will make you as red as I must.

(An attempt at racey poetry)


"You put me in a box, in that corner of your mind where you keep porn and math formulas." He said.

"That would explain a lot," I said.

"You know, you're jealous." He said, "The only characters used to be yours. The stories used to be yours. Now you're surrounded by writers, you're not special, just another hack."

(I don't even remember writing this. This was me talking to myself I guess. Man I'm mean to myself)


Snoring students wait for bell rings,

Boring speakers singing softly,

Stark lights, friend to blind kids, not the

Darkness, Blackness that envelops

Fertile gardens, gentle lights a

Girdle minds won't live long without.

(A poem where I was trying something weird. Many died)


"What if I told you this wasn't the first time we met. That tomorrow we'll meet again for the first time, then again, and again... until finally we are together forever."

"Then this toast is to a hundred first dates then."

(A weird time travel story. Cute and creepy)


Where men are always bumbling


Where women are always Blonde, always shit, Bombshells, BS.

Where one in seven of the gang is Black,

Where Ohio men come from Cali, Wisconsin gals are from Sea-town

Where big business is our best friend, holding our hand till the end.

Where chemicals are alive, and love you, fight for you.

(A poem so far called Admerica)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Magic the Gathering's Great Designer Search (2)

So I guess wizards (of the coast) has started a repeat of their grand contest to find people to design more magic cards for them. This was a big deal previously, indeed it determined the future of 3 (out of 1,000 or so) nerds, who now have a job at Wizards of the Coast.

As a college student with a part time job, way too much homework, and extra curricular activities a plenty, I decided that it was important for me to choke my schedule further by joining in this affair. There will be essay questions, multiple-choice, and a segment that is my personal favorite, worldbuilding. That is to say, designing your own little universe to play in.

A lot of people are... quite frankly... bad at this. I figure it makes up for their skill at actually designing cards, or mechanics. Not everyone can have the whole package. The people with the whole package will probably be working at Wizards this time next year.

Me, I am going to give it my best shot, and then move on witth my life after the fact.

They have a wiki set up for this insidious excercise. It allows people to share ideas, read thoughts of others, and discuss what they are doing. It is brilliant for both the participants, and for Wizards, who has free access to all of these ideas even after the contest is over.

If you want to see my own failings, here is a link. I will probably be blogging some thoughts about magic over there for a little bit, just to get myself in the mood.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Machismo (Rough Draft Pt. 1)

Machismo (Pt. 1)

As Mangar stood above the slain beast, slathered in its oil-black blood, he could hear a roar of men and women grow around him. It was the cheers of the peasants, the men and women the heroes saved on their daring quest had come to see the final battle against the evil God-Bard.

There they stood together, Mangar the Barbarian, Totee the Halfling, and the beautiful Sorceress Weanna, triumphant on their darkest day.

“'Kay that's good, bio break.” Chuck said. The wiry dungeon master rose from behind the propped up peachy folders that made up his secretive 'DM screen' and headed out of the room, leaving behind his three players.

This was Rick's house, or his mom's house to be more specific. Yet he wasn't in charge of the game, that was Chuck's job, which is why they would usually be over at his house to play, if his Mom and Dad weren't having their little 'spat' that was going on 3 months now.

Rick was happy to host everyone though, even if Rick's mom thought Jay talked way too loud (which yeah, he does), and Seth left food everywhere (which he does). These were his friends, for the most part. Having them over once a week was a boon.

Jay got up to stretch, his mouth opening wide and letting out a heavy yawn that he tried to talk through.

“My rolls... were so... horrible tonight,” Jay said.

“Your rolls are always horrible.” Seth said, “Every night, you're just a useless pile of hairy feet and bad puns.”

Rick laughed as Jay took a fake swing at Seth.

The door to the basement burst open behind them, sending a few cans of Mountain Dew scattering across the floor. Instead of Chuck, Rick's older brother Junior stood there. A groan passed between the players.

Junior swaggered into the room, a root beer in one hand and a basket of smug in the other, “You kids still in here playing your baby games?”

Everyone ignored him, except for Seth who simply stared.

“You know Dicky,” Junior said, using his favorite nickname for Rick, “If you stopped spending your Saturdays with these retards you might get laid before you graduate. Lords know all of you could use it.”

Rick let out a sigh, this was business as usual for his brother. Somewhere between losing his virginity and getting in his first car accident, he became god's gift to anything with a hole. He always had a new girlfriend, he was moved up to first string power forward on the Basketball team, and Rick swore even Junior's singing voice had improved.

“Whatever,” Rick responded, “Can you go now?”

Junior laughed along with no one and turned to leave, “You babies have fun, let mom know if you need a change.”

His laughter could be heard going up the steps even after the door closed.

“Man he is a douche.” Rick said.

“He has a point thought,” Jay said.

Rick and Seth both turned to look at the Halfling player.

“How?” Seth said with hands thrown up, “How does he have a point?”

Jay looked between them, “Well, when was the last time you had a girlfriend Rick?”

Rick looked at the ceiling and thought, about Betty, May, Alison, Tiffany.

“Never,” Rick said, “But this is High School man, you know how it is.”

Seth leaned back in his chair, “What happened with you and Karen?” He said.

Karen was a cute little blond girl they all shared Math class with. She was a little naïve in that way where you didn't know if they were actually naïve or just in complete denial.

“I don't really like Karen.” Rick said.

They responded in unison, “Don't like Karen?”

Rick scrunched up his face.

“I like Karen,” Seth said with a grin.

“I like Karen's laugh.” Jay said.

“Well yeah, you guys like Karen.”

“I like Karen's titties.” Jay said, his eyes rolling back in his head in an exaggerated fashion.

“Oh yeah, wonderful breast. Just makes you wanna...”

“...Oh I know, nice shape, and those shirts, I just want to...”

“...The things I would do.”

The door opened yet again and Chuck returned.

“Uhm,” Chuck said, “What're we talking about?”

“Nothing,” Rick said.

“Karen's wonderful sweater babies,” Seth said.

Chuck stopped in place, his face as expressionless as Rick had ever seen it. The DM cleared his throat, then walked back to his place.

“Oh.” Chuck said.

“Lets just start again,” Rick said.

From behind his screen they could see chuck moving things around, hear the shuffling of loose pages of notes and story. He mumbled something to himself, and each of the players waited in silence for the action to begin.

Chuck cleared his throat again.

The heroes basked in the glory of victory, flowers raining upon them, and heartfelt tears spilling at their feet. The world was saved yet again, thanks to their fearless actions in the face of mortal danger. No one could stand before them and call them anything less than legends, great warriors willing to put the common man before their own wellbeing.

Suddenly the crowd grew quiet, and they parted to let through a busty maiden, the Princess of Charlezonia. Her body bursting with affection for the saviors of her land. One by one she pressed herself against them and gave unto them a deep kiss...

“That's it,” Rick said, “This is too much.”

“He was just getting to the good part,” Seth said.

Rick took a breath and looked between his friends. They knew him, he knew them, they were good guys. Yet something seemed sad, about all of it.

“Does she really have to be the 'busty maiden'?” Rick said.

Jay cocked an eyebrow at him like Rick just finished a handstand, in his underwear.

“Would you rather she be the homely peasant girl? Or the face-only-a-goblin-could-love chick?” Jay said.

“I uh, I could do homely.” Chuck said, his eyes just showing above his peachies.

“No one adventures for homely,” Seth said while adjusting his eyewear, “No one slays the darkest spawn of the unknown reaches for homely.”

“I'd slay all sorts of spawn for Karen.”

“I'd darkest spawn all over Karen.”

“I don't even like Karen,” Rick Said.

“You don't need to,” Seth said, “This isn't about liking her is it? Its about what Junior said. All he said was to get laid. You think Junior liked the girls he slept with?”

Somewhere deep Rick imagined his brother liked each and every one of them, or at least liked the way they looked after a few beers. They were his girls, even if he used them as an emulator for lotion and tissue paper, and trashed them just as fast.

“What are you going to do? Go be big dog like Junior?” Seth said, “You can bust a few cans on your forehead, and piss on the neighbors lawn.”

Chuck made a hissing sound from behind his screen, his own little laugh that sounded like a Disney movie snake.

Rick rubbed the side of his head, “I just don't know. Junior is an idiot, but I guarantee every girl he hasn't already bespoiled is just hoping he ask for their number. I could get a degree, spend my whole life studying, and unless I get rich I'll never have that.”

“Of course,” Jay said, “That's why you're here, and he is out there.” He said while pointing.

Seth whispered, “Out where?”

“If you wanted the get girls quick plan, you'd be out there. You want success and money. So you study. This is obvious stuff man.”

Rick shook his head, “But I might not get rich, and he could still get a good job.”

“You could go out there and get a girl, if you bulked up a little,” Seth said, “Maybe hit the gym.”

“He doesn't need to bulk up,” Jay said, “Don't tell him that.”

“Look at him.”

Rick's eyes went wide, “What does that mean?”

“Yeah, he is fine the way he is. Heck, the right clothes and a little make up, I'd go for it.” Rick said, then added, “No homo.”

Seth's lips mouthed, “What.”

Rick turned from Jay to Chuck, “I could try it. You know, why not. Hell, I'll go for Karen. It's not like I'm worried about divine brimstone or something, getting laid could be helpful.”

“You don't even like Karen,” Jay said.

“... saying no homo doesn't count if its totally homo...” Seth said as they spoke.

“Yeah, but that's even better. I don't need a relationship before college anyway.”

“Uhm,” Chuck said, making everyone grow quiet to hear him, “You could also become a complete dick.”

Saturday, September 4, 2010

PAX: "Guild Wars 2"

I have loved the original Guild Wars ever since it was sold to me with a masterful misdirection. The idea implanted in my mind was that the choices of skills going into a round of PvP in Guild Wars was like building a deck for Magic the Gathering. They told me something was going to be like something I liked, building decks. It was unfair really, I had no options at that point. Turning away from the game would have meant lying to my self, while following the game meant accepting what I knew was on some level a lie.

Guild Wars was special though. Not just its monthly fee (which is non-existant), but in the structure. It was a PvP game first, and that was the difference. The game was built around it, the way you made a character, the way items were balanced, the abilities were crafted to it. We couldn't hide this, not when one overpowered team composition could lead to PvE changing when an ability was 'rebalanced'.

It was all in the title. Guilds would fight one another, war even. You knew what the game was about just by picking it up. I played for years, took months off but always came back. I could play a little alone, but the game shined when my friends and I created teams that we hoped could take on all comers. They rarely could, but it is never about the result of a journey now is it? Laughs were had, frustrations were vented, people raged and new ideas were formed by the steam. Then we would try yet again.

So, having a chance to play Guild Wars 2 is something close to touching a warped memory. I know the world, I know the races and classes, yet this was not my Guild Wars. The system for everything seemed different, the game moved fluid in PvE, things were not the same.

The creators let fly facts as I waited to play. The game had dynamic events, connecting players to fight great beast that had no schedule, and could show when you least expect it. Weapons related to your skills, 10 now instead of the 8 I remember being compared to a 60 card magic deck. With the weapons you equip, some of your skills automatically change with, making them so much more important.

This felt like, dare I say it, a PvE focused game. It was a world where people roamed the overmap, and fought large monsters, hoping to defeat it and get cool loot.These were things that 'could' be done in their own ways in Guild Wars, but in the end it was all to benefit that all important war. You leveled so you could fight other guilds, you got money so you could buy gear to fight other guilds. The game was not deep, but it did not feel the need to be.

So I worried, even as I enjoyed my time as a ferocious Charr warrior. I enjoyed the carnal ripping of my enemies, but wondered what I might lose in the PvP sections of the game. There were aspects I liked, the events reminded me of the community merging open quest of WAR. The skills reminded me of my past love, Guild Wars. Yet it was the movement, smooth and intentful, that doomed it.

Yet it has the benefit of the doubt. Unlike The Old Republic, storytelling will not drive this game through boredom. I will stick to it though, let it take me where it wants to go, and at least give it a shot. No monthly fee says it cannot be so bad as to ruin me.

PAX: "Star Wars: The Old Republic"

The Old Republic has always represented something to me. Call it a promise, or a wish, or just plain old hater's hope. You see, I've never been a fan of WoW, most MMOs can't hold my attention actually. I've played quite a few, some of them longer than others; Ultima Online, Warhammer Online, Eve, Guild Wars, City of Heroes, Lord of the Rings, DnD Online, Planetside, so many MMOs. Some have been good, some have been bad, others have been atrocious. They all though, have been excuses for busywork.

There are exceptions, Guild Wars and Planetside in particular were excuses to fight as a party, but MMOs have a horrible track record of being more about some random guy in a field sending me off to do his chores than about any grand adventure. If I wanted to be sent to do random chores and awarded with inexplicable inventory, I could just play Animal Crossing, and at least that way I'd be able to get T. Nook off my back.

The expectation for MMOs is not high. They are comrade games, meant to be played with a group of people you agree with, so as to make even the most mind-numbing task seem enjoyable. You laugh, you argue, you dick each other over, and everyone has a blast. This works with other genres as well, but MMOs thrive on this. When the player associates the game with good feelings instead of the friendly fun, they are now a customer for life. Wonder why your friend went from playing with only you to playing more without you than with you? Wonder why your significant other can choose the game over you? Well wonder no more.

So what is the promise of Star Wars the Old Republic? Story, that's what. Story that pulls the game together instead of leaving it as a jumbled mess of events that sort of make you do important things. The full extent of Bioware's dedication to this promise isn't known yet, won't be known for nearly a year when the game is released, but I have a dream. I want my stupid collection quest to only occur when it makes sense, if I'm collecting droid scraps, let it be to fix my ship so I can get off a rim world, if I'm killing krayt dragons, let it be to prove to my Sith master that I'm ready for my final trial.

This isn't rocket surgery, no gamer should need to lie to themselves to enjoy what their game requires. We should want to continue because we want to know what comes next. We should want the story to bloom around us.

Star Wars: The Old Republic, is not a WoW killer, I won't dub a game that anytime soon. I don't need it to do anything to WoW, I simply need it to survive long enough for me to play through it, 8 times maybe (once for each class).

The gameplay all looks particularly normal, the mechanics are not unique. There is space flight, but it is watered down. There is a cover system, but that is for two classes who both do it differently. This game is not unique under the hood, it is all about the surface here. The story, the presentation, this is supposed to be the deal sealer, and so far I am sealed.

Even as I first played it, as a huge Twi'lek scoundrel, I found myself killing a few random enemy soldiers and clicking on buildings that glowed slightly. The game may as well have told me to collect separatist helmets the way I was killing these guys. I had a reason though, I couldn't get off the planet unless the enemy forces had their scramblers destroyed. My character wanted off that rock, and I wanted to know where he was going. No need to read a stupid quest log, I heard my character say this, he wanted off and anyone who got in his way was going to eat a grenade.

There was the spine tingling difference.

The references to past games I love, the colorful and characterful presentation, these are all just bonuses. SW:TOR, keep it up and I'm on board for sure.

PAX: Day Two

Day two had a different purpose, and everyone could feel it. While day one was visceral, instinct driving everyone to raw experiences within the expo halls. Day two was about learning, nothing important to anyone else, or anyone of grand importance. The plan was to enrich yourself in the field we all agreed upon, the game.

A short course on Women's Studies, or a Journalism class, Leadership courses, or maybe Graphic Design. Here though there were no credits, no days of homework rolling in and out, and the professors were the very people who ran the fields in question. Classrooms that lasted for an hour, snuggled into small rooms with big screens and long hanging microphones. Classrooms that began with explosive presentations, and ended with Q&A. These were panels, nearly as varied as the people at the convention, and scattered to every floor of the building.

These panels have a problem though, since many students didn't wait hours at a time just to squeeze into their morning class. They are limited, one shot at one time, and there is never enough space. A room that can fit 100 can attract 500 visitors, and woe be to those who thought it was enough to show up on time. Or the fool like me who thinks he can go from one panel to another, when one ends when another begins.

I wanted three panels, one on writing in the game industry, one simply for the joy of watching others play the game, and the last to learn more about an upcoming release. I had to drop one, for time alone, and my evening still felt pressed for time. I skipped playing a small game that caught my eye, simply to find enough time to get off my feet.

My last 'class' did not disappoint though, and my evening ended with the bang of new surprises and renewed anticipation for a game I've always wanted. This was the joy of new information, a hype engine that runs on solar power.

Day two winded down, and now all that's left is to rest, and prepare for the final day. There are so many things I've yet to try, and one more day to give them a shot.

Friday, September 3, 2010

PAX: Day One

You truly know its here when you have trouble sleeping the night before, roll over endlessly in your bed, waiting for the sun to rise and the fun of tomorrow to begin. No, this isn't Christmas, though close enough for some. Santa's little venture at the end of Summer.

This was waking up for Pax. Even though the rest of my family was up just as early for the birth of my new niece in about 5 hours, I was focused elsewhere. Even then, when my ride came calling, I wasn't fully dressed, and my packing job was left a lot to be desired. I didn't know what to do, if I should bring this food or that, these cloths or those, what I would need and how much of it. We tucked into the little black ride and went to the meet. The pax goers, the pax group, some having been there every year since High School, others a little newer. Hotel money was collected, cars were organized, and we were off for the long drive to Seattle.

The long drive was made even longer by the crowded streets of Seattle. A zig zag of one ways and uncooperative GPS lead to white knuckles, Pax was close, and few obstacles hung in our way. Valets and bag checks concluded, it was time for the first stage of pax: lines.

We did good this year. Every year Pax begins with a huge line of nerds and nerdettes outside the building, waiting for the hall to open. Within the last few years, this line actually became a line for the exposition hall, where new games were shown and swag was given away. Anyone who was anyone knew that if you waited 30 minutes after the expo hall was open, the line would be gone, and you could just walk in normally for the rest of the day, so we skipped that line completely, to go to another line. This one for the theater, which was a five or so minute walk away, and had already reached Space Mountain-like proportions. It actually circled the building a full time, and those like us, waiting for the Keynote at the end of the line, were stuck looking through windows at those at the very FRONT of that queueing debacle.

So we left, somehow managing to skip one line, wait in a line, yet get no benefit out of either.

Women and Men swarmed the building, dressed in every color and shape of dress imaginable. Outfits society would imagine should bring shame; like a hooker in short shorts and stockings, some were dressed for the job. In under a minute I saw Poo from Earthbound, Vega from Street Fighter, and a girl wearing fishnets and a mini-skirt who just seemed to like her legs.

We made it to the Expo hall though, packed to the wall with new games, retro games, big games and Indie games. People waited in more lines, experiencing things they before trusted to the words of underpaid game journalist. I saw games that made my mouth water, drilled at my ear drums, and nearly burned my eyes out. The floor was hot with as many anticipated titles as I could hope for, and held a few surprises as well.

I moved through the smell, a scent varied by location and not altogether unpleasant, to start on my mission. There were objectives, few and easy to achieve, but each was required to fulfill the journey that was Pax. Games that needed to be played, and swag that needed to be obtained.

Day One is coming to a close, one objective is already complete, and the nightly concerts are about to begin. These sweaty, digital raves are both a godsend and a hell of their own, creating a bath of energy that cannot be resisted, escaped, yet is not always likened to joy.

I cannot wait for Day Two. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Lord Uertu: Part 2 (Rough Draft)

I truly struggled with this one, likely because of the time of writing this. I think some pieces really require a nemesis, someone who stands against. Religion is definitely not an exception to this rule, and so I go about the task of working up my dark figure. Yet a character you cannot sympathize with, is not one you will believe in. Though that begs the question of who can be sympathized with here? Oh well, enough digestion on my part, here is Kno's Ledge.

As man lived and died, they found no purpose in anything except the subtle words of Uertu's children. Man or woman, all ate, slept, lived, the echo of Uertu's divine will.

Then a leader emerged. One man above tribes, respected by many and honored for his dedication to the betterment of his fellow man. The tribes crowned him as King of men, above all local tribes, the first of his kind, King Kno.

His kingdom's walls did not reach far, but his word spread well beyond. The great city of Triel served as the seat of power, a land of learning and exchange, where many men of many sorts convened. Triel was a calculated work, a plan come to life. Within it, understanding was fertile, enriched to grow mighty.

The city itself was set along a great cliff, the castle up against its ledge, a perilous drop to rock and rapids far below. Kno nested there where he could not be easily assailed, but could not retreat once found. Kno's ledge was his badge of confidence, and contention.

Cloistered within, Kno sat facing Gealla's advice. For as Kno stood to rule over many tribes, not all respected his word. In Uertu's name, Meret called for action among the tribes who wished for Uertu's grace, which were many. These Meret tribes moved among those that crowned Kno, and between them there was talk.

“They say,” Said Gealla, “You seek and seek, yet you will never know Uertu.”

And so they did, the people whispered amongst themselves at his futility.

“Meret claims you must stop your search, relinquish your crown,” Gealla continued, “There is no Lord of men but Uertu. Meret unites the people in his name.”

That King thought hard, yet still his words were, “A world lead by Meret will not stand.”

Kno's reply was spread on the wings of words said, each man and woman whispering to those close. Till Meret, among the people, heard the message clearly.

A crowd waited on Meret, to see his reaction to Kno's arrogance. The child of grace did not flicker, or turn, he merely spoke among those present.

“Does he not know Uertu's word?” Meret asked the listening many, “We cannot seek him, he will find us.”

These words echoed in the others. Their Lord was distant, but within they knew that proper fealty was the path to Uertu, his Crystal Haven just beyond the clouds. Why would Kno take on such a journey? One he knew you can't complete? Maybe Gealla's words confused him, or quest engaged him, but his kingdom stood on a dark precipice.

“I will go to him,” Meret offered, “So he may see Uertu's light, and spread it as quickly as he spreads his words.

So Meret did, Uertu's tribe his escort. They walked to the city, then through its walls, to the castle then to the hall. Kno waited there, just him and Gealla.

“Speak,” said Kno, “So your wishes are clear.”

Meret stayed among his crowd, “I do not come here to speak of my own wishes. I come to warn you.”

Kno stood, “So I do not make a habit of speaking to those with no stance of their own, I ask that you are quick.”

Eyes in the tribe fanned between the King and the Son. Whispers spread, a wave of hushed thoughts.

Then Meret spoke, “You take on a fool's quest, to understand what you cannot experience.”

A sharp cry of agreement assaulted the King, and harsh words rained from the tribesman.

Kno raised a hand to silence them, “Any lord I cannot fathom, is no lord of mine. I wish only to grasp what I can.”

“You have what you can grasp,” Meret said, “Yet you clamor for more. These people know Uertu's wish, they know how to serve Uertu's will, so I wonder who you serve.”

With this the crowd grew angry with Kno, even those undecided turned against the King and his Gealla. Kno took one step forward, yet none respected his motions. Only his aide stood by his side, besides this he was alone.

Meret turned his back to the King, yet still he spoke, “You may decide what you wish. Though if you do not drop your foolish search and your rule, I would not be surprised if these tribes wished for war.”

Then Meret left the hall, the crowd's rage following with.

Alone again, Kno was left to decide. He believed in Uertu, and Kno's learning was in his Lord's name. Yet the more that Kno found, the further Uertu's light became. If he continued his reign as King of Triel, it was only in hopes that grace would be revealed, no matter how far the light seemed to have gone.

Kno dismissed Gealla, so he could be alone. Then he spoke out to his Lord, in one last hope to be heard.

“Uertu the great Lord, who brings light to this world, why do you hide from us till its too late?”

The room lay silent.

Yet Uertu heard, and Uertu listened. This man's case was quite different, as first King of men, so Uertu made plans of what to do with him. Kno's kingdom was strong, yet their leader was lost, his actions lead many away from Uertu's cause. They sought purpose where Uertu meant nothing at all, and devoted themselves to learning and knowledge.

Kno's words went unanswered that night, yet the next day he called for Meret in his hall yet again.

This time Meret came alone, so Kno dismissed Gealla. They met as two leaders, one for his people, the other for Uertu.

“I know you have questions,” Meret said as they met, “Your words to our Lord did not fall on deaf ears.”

Kno stood silent, defiant before proof was submitted. Yet Meret spoke truth, for the night before he visited his father Uertu, upon request. All of Kno's words were spoken back to Meret, and Uertu requested Kno be given one last chance.

Meret continued, “You cannot know your Lord from here, for this is the test of life. If you are not worthy, you will not pass on.”

Kno's brow furrowed, and his heart hardened up. He believed he was being fooled, played with by this leader of tribes.

“Enough,” Kno snapped, “You have no proof.”

Meret did not falter, “I need present none, you will believe me soon enough. Either drop your crown now, or forsake your Lord and all those who follow you.”

Kno was ablaze in his rage, and he stepped forward with purpose. He stepped past Meret, to the great doors behind him. To the steps of the castle, where many stood waiting. Then Kno raised his voice, his words spreading far on the quick moving wind, and he told all the people his dark decision.

“I rule from this place, by the allowance of these tribes. I rule for the sake of the people, and of our advancement now in this life. I have been told to choose now, to continue or back down, my grace the forfeit. Let every man, woman and child, know I will not drop my crown.”

As many men cheered as there were that rained jeers on that crowned fool.

Uertu watched from above, his head shaking in shame. His first King had chose wrong, and a special case needed to be made. It would be a lesson for all, they would learn then who was wrong. So Uertu reached down and cast Kno from his light. The man was yanked up and flung far away, set down in the shadows the great Lord's light created.

Kno fell to his knees in confusion and fear. Then Uertu spoke to him, creating great awe.

“You could have grasped me, experienced me, the thing you wanted most.”

In the night where he stood, Kno saw his mistake. Yet he stood, in contention.

“Lord,” He said, “I only wished to have you here and now. If that is my crime, I will not be the last to commit it, I assure you.”

“Your impatience was your downfall,” Uertu replied, “You want your reward before you have earned it. You lead your fellow man astray. Many more will follow you into this darkness, but you will be the first cursed stay.”

Kno's eyes tried to glow against the blackness, but he was refused.

“You will never know me, nor those that followed you,” Uertu said, “Let this be your final lesson.”

Then Uertu left him, King of shadows, from the far side of the light to the dark side of the moon, King Kno.

Monday, June 14, 2010

On Anonymity

When discussing anonymous identification, in this case pertaining to online communities and forums, there are a few different issues to take into account. A few I discussed previously, in my short look at usernames and names, what they mean to us, and if they are important to a community.

On the other hand, when people are allowed to be anonymous, they can disconnect themselves from a name, as well as from their own appearance and history. This shield from accountability can lead to behavior that builds a community, or destroys it. Unrelated to the strength of the community, the behavior of the community may lean toward socially accepted good or bad based on the allowance of anonymous identification.

Note that this discussion will not relate to whether humans are naturally good or bad (the answer is neither by the way), since we are discussing matured humans who have accepted society. The basic nature of humans does not relate to how they act once integrated into the world.

Law, or more specifically criminology, has beliefs on the effectiveness of laws based on how likely a law is to be enforced. While people should not jaywalk, people often do so anyway because they don't know anyone that has been punished for jaywalking. The proliferation of music downloads, and torrenting, are also considered related to the likely-hood of being punished. While punishment related to music arrest have become more common in the news, it is usually punishment for those who run the websites or programs that download the music, not the downloaders themselves.

This idea reflects on society in general. While every culture reflects its ideas of unacceptable behavior on every child, a person may decide that they will take part in that unacceptable behavior if there is no fear of being punished. This is how people start smoking, cursing, watching porn, using racially charged words, etc. A child who knows their parents won't punish them if they skip school, has a high likely-hood of skipping more often.

We also know that as humans, we like to move with the crowd. From music, to art, to TV shows, to food, we like to do something if other people are doing it as well. The ancient phrase “If ____ jumped off a bridge, would you too?” is based on this very thing. When faced with the choice of acting like those we are often around, or following some greater rule of society, nature says to follow the crowd. If everyone looks one way, you look there too. If everyone starts running, you don't ask questions, you just get out of there!

So we know now that names are important for identification, accountability, and punishment. We also know that without the fear of punishment, humans may partake of behavior that they know is socially unacceptable. Finally, we know that humans like to act as a crowd, following what others are doing if they find enough people are doing it.

In relation to anonymous identification, communities that allow it, of course the primary case being Christopher Poole's, are a risky environment.

There are situations where people do good things when anonymous, blood donors, toy drives and other donations show that people can do great things when given the chance to do something without getting credit. Of course, these situations are also framed so that the one input that people can give, is good things. The movement of the crowd in this case is toward helping others, and since this framework is established there is no risk that unacceptable behavior will come out it.

When not given a structure, humans acting anonymously are a bit more random. Christopher Poole recently gave a presentation at the TED2010 conference, discussing some of the acts 4chan has accomplished. Saving a cat nicknamed Dusty was one, the resurgence of singer Rick Astley was another. The memetic spread of 4chan has greatly influenced the internet, this is undeniable. Lots of known memes, repeatable phrases and/or images, have either started or grown to full power on 4chan's pages. So has a lot of images of graphic violence, racist imagery and phrases, and mass piracy.

In the case of a site like that, where many posters discuss things with one another while many are completely anonymous, it does not take much for people to become negative, or purposely antagonize one another. The only consequence are breaking the hard rules of the community, anything short of that is accepted and therefore happens often. Trolling one another, purposely antagonizing someone in order to see their reaction or ruin their conversation, is not only common but a part of the culture.

Why this happens may relate to the earlier issues discussed. People are capable of acting good when anonymous, and if this happens then it is possible that others will see this and decide that they should also act good. When acting good though, there is no risk involved. On the other hand, an online community is the perfect place to act in ways that society usually does not allow or accept, because there is no risk for punishment. So when one person discovers this, and decides that they want to antagonize someone, or spill discriminating words for no reason, or show graphic imagery for no reason other than to shock someone; others see this, realize they can do likewise, and partake in the actions of the crowd.

An anonymous community has the capability to be very useful for the same reasons it is risky. It is also a place where people need not risk being judged based on past instigations or comments, each of their ideas can be identified and judged based on the comments merits. In a place where an arbiter made sure comments and rebuttals were relevant and informed, this would be a boon for frank discussion where people were not afraid to say the things everyone did not want to hear. Without these things, there is no reason to take a comment seriously, when it may be more fun for one of hundreds of people to troll the person's stance instead, giving falsified or unsubstantiated replies instead.

When looking at anonymous as a framework for an online community, there are a lot of issues, but a lot of possibility for gain. Though people may have the capability to do good things, or get a lot done, this often doesn't happen when it may seem more enjoyable or refreshing to antagonize one another instead. This is not a reason to abandon the internet as a place of community though.

Image from

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lord Uertu: Part 1 (Rough Draft)

The task here is one I take far too lightly, to recreate the image of god. I will use the little 'g' here to limit my offense, since no matter how you look at it, this is simply fictional. I will try to do everything with purpose, from names to actions to words, so know that this is not simply idle blasphemy. For those of you that enjoy idle blasphemy, I guess you can appreciate this too. Though this, the first part, is rather bland. But it is necessary, like the opening cinematic to an adventure game.

There was chaos to begin. A swirling void of blackness without end, no order to be spoken of with no one to speak of it. No mortal creatures stirred, no bodies moved, there was only the void and its occupant.

Within that endless darkness there stood one hard light, emanating piercing warmth through the vast nothingness. That light came from power divine, that went where it pleased, did what it pleased. That light was Uertu, majesty without origin. Uertu's light shined from his domain, a Crystal Haven in the dark of chaos. From there, the gem-hued walls spread Uertu's light to every corner he wished it, split back chaos with its very presence. Yet there was still only him.

Despite Uertu's great power, there was no one to know it. No one drew benefit from his vast light, which concerned him. Standing over chaos, there was nothing but his light, and its dark. For all his light, there was still much more darkness.

Seeing this, Uertu spoke, “What is Uertu with no one to know him? If I am good, then let there be beings to know me as good.”

The light grew bright, peeling back the folds of chaos as Uertu began his work. With great grace came the matter, and with great energy it became the cosmos we know. Chaos cradled it, that unwanted dark held out by Uertu's great energy.

Within the cosmos sped bodies, molten, frozen, hurtling and spinning, all centered on the Crystal Haven.

Then one of such bodies out of many was chosen, for its shape and size pleased him, and Uertu rested above it. To Uertu, creating life was a small task, but to create future subjects took forethought. So others were brought before him, his own children.

When his many children came before him, Uertu spoke again, “Know that now I create life, with purpose. These beings will live, love, and lose to learn of me. I wish that they will seek me, and through seeking their Lord they will gain entrance to the Crystal Haven. To such as them my power will be infinite, my knowledge will be infallible, my actions will be everything. Through their trials on this rock, let them be tested for worthiness, and let you test them my children.”

Uertu pointed out three of his children, “You Meret, let them act for you without knowing what you wish of them my son. They will risk death and the eternity of chaos in hopes of your rewards. You Morallite, They will seek you, want you, yet never know you. Hide among them my daughter and be the untouchable treasure. Lastly you Iustys, chiseled from the stone, let them beg for you, yet fear you. They will not want the touch of your hand, yet seek your mighty fist.”

The three children understood, and this pleased Lord Uertu. Then life was created. First the plants came , sprouts of lush life that colored the world. Then came the creatures of all sorts, smallest first to biggest. Then time passed, as Uertu's subjects were not among these.

With ages passed, Man appeared, and Uertu's children went to them. The trial of life was to enter its first chapter.

Next Chapter: Enter King Kno's Ledge, and Meret

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

On Usernames

On the topic of usernames, the first thing to consider is names in general. While it is of no use to think of names at a time before written record, it is important to think about the meaning and tradition built up around them. In some cultures your name comes directly from the names of your parents, in others it is given to you from an endless list of possibilities. Old fashioned Indonesian names are simply one name, while other cultures can produce more than five for one person. They may also have a greater meaning, belonging to the hopes parents have for their child, or omens witnessed around the time of birth. Names can simply relate to visual things, star, flower. They can also be concepts, like hope.

Names also traditionally hold power. Someone's true name allows magical influence over, or may call its eye upon you. While this idea is much older than the Christian faith, this is the reason why the Jewish people withhold the name of their lord, and don't write it somewhere that can be erased. Those who know your name are close to you sympathetically, they can have influence over you. Without the need for magic or faith, this is true on a base level. Names work as identification for accusation, commendation, all close human acts. When we do not wish to be moved by someone, to stay completely detached, we purposely neglect to learn their name. Those we have not learned the name of, we cannot truly know.

From just this we know a lot about names. Names can mean a lot just in their words, or mean very little. Words can relate to the world, or something greater than the world. Names can identify you as part of a culture. They can be long or short. Most of all, names have power.

This all applies to usernames as well, the monikers people self-apply for use online or within specific services. A username may relate to physical concepts like places or things, or to metaphysical concepts. Often usernames can identify you as part of a culture, 'azn' being shorthand for a generalization its users often hate to have aimed at them; they are Asian and want us to know. Usernames may have length longer than actually required, gaining decoration and numbers like 'xXcoolguyXx' or 'diamondprohere23' that may have no bearing on the name itself.

One thing that cannot be denied though is that usernames have power. Like any name, it allows for one to identify another, for the sake of admonishment or praise. The username will allow one to be singled out. Usernames and the identification with them can also lead to popularity, say the right things at the right places and people will remember you.

Yet a username is not a true name. Should they still be respected? One name is under another name meant only for virtual purposes. That username may only exist at that one place, or carry over to many others. It is possible then that when that username is being used, the person beneath is acting differently than they normally would. While their username can be held accountable for these actions, sometimes they (the person) cannot be. Several usernames all referring to one person is problematic for accountability, a basic piece of order.

Still, if that username can be punished, putting one internet troll to rest regardless of the repercussions for the true name behind it, the username has served its purpose. Within the community that username belongs to, the power of that name has been used. Even if the person behind the username was creating a false persona for that community, that person runs the risk of being punished based on the actions of that username. Therefore a username is very serious business, as serious as the internet itself even. Even if the content of a username seems like a joke, or the person behind the username seems less than serious, the username and person should be treated as just that. The username has meaning and power for that person, it may relate to history or concepts that they judged adequate to represent them. If they were in bad judgement based on the name alone, that is their choice, and they shall have to live with that choice.

This idea, of usernames representing the person as they exist within communities on the internet, gives way to discussion on the veil between user and community. The behavior created by anonymity is worth a look all by itself.

Image from

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Step One: I Hate Blogs

Blogs are for losers, the self-obsessed, the loudmouths of the world. Blogs are to follow famous people you shouldn't care about, to tell everyone about that cool movie you saw, to replace bad magazines and letters.

Blogs are a pointless waste of letters, another example of words meant to fade off into the void of the internet as soon as someone stops caring about them. They are the vocal extension of a generation practicing weapons of mass publishing, everyone saying what they think so loudly that not one person is remembered.

Yet here I have made a blog, out of desperation and respect. Because this is the now, and if done right it could be the future. I hope I'm wrong, and more so I hope that what I think doesn't matter. In the meantime, this will serve as my blog, which I hate, an extension of my utopia and my nightmare, the Cyberlot. Where technology and communication are reflected in art besides science fiction, where maybe it is literary.