Little Choices

February 4, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Posted in General | Leave a comment
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Wotcha everyone,

Friendships follow us.  They’re good like that.  One of the fun things about friendship is the sharing of experiences; if I spend time enjoying the company of my fellow gamer whilst smacking orcs in the face in one game, then I’m more than likely to enjoy spending time with that same fellow gamer whilst smacking eeeeeviel cultists in another.

So the most natural thing in the world is to want to continue playing games with the friends I have made during my time in various online worlds.

Yet with that comes a certain amount of loss of destiny, of control.  When I approached my first MMO, I got to decide everything for myself; being on my own meant I got to decide everything myself.

Yet with friends comes lack of choice.  I like to think that’s a good thing, but there are always those little niggling moments where being a part of the group means not getting exactly what we want.

Yes, I’m talking about those times I’ve gone to the cinema and ended up watching some strange chick-flick rather than the action thriller, or going out for food and ending up at a Mexican restaurant when I really, really wanted pizza.

And there are always those times when old friends would insist on going out to that nasty flea-pit of a pub, *just* because we used to go there a couple of decades ago.

Feeling suitably old now (yes, I’m still amazed that I can now say “a couple of decades ago” without irony) I shall move on to where I am today:

Looking at Rift, and hoping that I’ll get what I want with respect to server and faction choice.

That Open Beta period of time before launch is always a bit strange for me.  Mixed with all of the excitement and anticipation is the planning.  I like to think that some of that anticipation is good, useful planning; what server shall we play on, what faction shall we choose, who will be faction leader, who will be the officers?

And then there is what I see as the over-excited planning; maybe I should take my MMO gaming more seriously, because I find it hard to understand why there are guilds out there that have decided that they are no longer recruiting Sith Inquisitors and Smugglers.  Whenever I wonder whether life has become more or less chaotic and random, I end up finding the sort of guild that is so organised that they’ve already filled up their class quota for a game that will be released some time later this year, if not next year (my money is on next year, but I hope to be proved wrong).

With Rift following the familiar pattern of having available races spread between two factions rather than shared, and having those factions exist in a state of war, there is no opportunity for characters from differing factions to play with each other (oo-er missus!) without that being at the business end of swords and spells.

This means that part of joining as a group will mean some members of the group having to decide to compromise on their choice of faction.  With that comes compromise in choice of race.

My usual experience is a lot of forum-based discussion.  Now, from previous posts, you might have guessed that I’m not a fan of committees.  Usually they mean that after a long and involved discussion process, where everyone’s opinion can be heard and valued, everybody ends up equally upset as nobody gets exactly what they wanted.

At least with a choice of two options, there’s a lot less chance of death by committee.

I sometimes think the various psychologists and sociologists who have decided to study our little piece of geek heaven would have a field day, if they could just get past that whole: “MMOs are addictive!” thing.

For a start, there is all that guessing about which of two factions will be most popular, and then deciding whether everyone cares enough to go with the cool kids, or just jump into the same faction as the masses.  There’s deciding which server to go on, and whether or not to care if other guilds encountered in previous games will be, or won’t be, going to the same server.

There’s all of the fun of deciding what type of server to play on; some might want a Role-Playing server, because it’s commonly believed that there is a more mature player base on Role-Playing servers.  Others will want a PvE server because they enjoy that aspect of the game more; others might desire a PvP server because they find straight vE just not as exciting as taking on other players.

Then there’s the joy of faction selection.  It’s a big choice because there are so many things dependant on that one, simple decision.  My gaming will be influenced by the look and feel of the faction, from the architecture of the landscape to the quests that I’ll be running to level up.  It will affect my choice of character race completely; I will not have a free choice of race, because races are faction specific.

Sometimes, choice of class is regulated by choice of race.  I like to think of it as an old Advanced Dungeons & Dragons hangover, as if some races are just plain klutzy when it comes to various careers.  Or something.  I’m really glad Rift believes in equal opportunities.

Such a small number of decisions, but they can really make a huge difference when it comes to enjoying a game.  So being willing to give up any decision-making authority can be a real wrench for me, especially if I particularly care one way or the other about the options on offer.

It shouldn’t be a case of having to choose between friendship or freedom of choice, but sometimes little flights of fancy do wonder what it would have been like to have made other game choices.

Anyway, I’ve chosen to go along with friends, and devolve responsibility in Rift to their choices.  Maybe I’ll be lucky, and they’ll go for the choices I’ve made, maybe I won’t, but unless they choose something that I know I won’t enjoy, I’ll be more than happy.



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