Friday, December 11, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Relationships are transient things. I've moved a lot, so few people know this fact better than I do. Even your strongest friendships can fall by the wayside when you don't see each other every day.

This is true in online games, too.

How many people in the world play their games at the same time on the same server every day consistently for an extended period of time? Probably a few. But not most of us.

It's rare that I can make and keep a true online friend. I'm amazed that I still keep in touch with Rod and Kristei, since we haven't played Perfect World together in months.

But you have to get used to the fact that you might meet the most amazing person one day and then never speak to them again. One of you might quit playing or switch characters, or you might just never be on at the same time. Or you might talk to them for a few weeks and then find you have nothing more to say and wander away.

Wow, what a depressing post. Here. Let me make it better:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

This is not a post.

I would love to post. I really would. I'd love to tell you all about why I now hate Wizard 101.

But it's finals week. You ain't getting nothing for a while, now.

Monday, November 9, 2009

My new distraction from productivity...

...is Wizard 101.

It's quite possibly the cutest game ever that still has enjoyable gameplay. (Except for maybe Fur Fighters on the Dreamcast. That was Halo with fuzzy animals.)

And, like all my favorite games, it's free.

However, the chat system is super annoying. For one thing, many of the players are under 13 and can only use canned chat. Everyone older than that may use general chat, but the filters are severe and edit out anything not recognized by the system's dictionary, including many common emotes and abbreviations.

In some ways, this is a good thing. It eliminates profanity and encourages proper spelling (HOORAY!) in one fell swoop. Since the game promotes itself as family-friendly, the heavy filters and restrictions make perfect sense. And players 18 and up can choose to enable Open Chat, which is strictly monitored but not filtered. However, you can't enable Open Chat unless you pay to subscribe to the game. And damned if I'm going to spend money just to be able to say damn.

You can't really evaluate Wizard 101 on the same terms as Dungeons and Dragons Online, which is always full of lively dispute about stats, rolls, classes and saves. And you can't even compare it to the awkward sexual tension that often characterizes common chat in Perfect World.

Let's just say I don't play Wizard 101 for the scintillating conversation or social interaction. I play it because it's fun, cute, and totally addictive.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I enter the forum fray. Also, I have another assignment.

I feel a little more legit as a gamer now that I've started posting in forums on The Escapist.

The number of replies to my first thread was really exciting! So far it has more than 1600 views and more than 100 replies. (And I promise no more than a dozen or so views were me sitting and hitting refresh every ten seconds.) That's really nothing to write home about, in comparison to some of the other threads, but it's still cool.

What wondrous, insightful topic did I unfurl before the masses? "Who are the strongest and weakest female video game characters of all time?"

By strength, I don't only mean ass-kicking abilities; I also mean depth of character and relevance to the storyline. By weakness, I mean shallowness, passivity, and existing for little more than eye-candy.

I asked for the opinions of fellow gamers because I'm writing a proposal for a book about female video game characters. (As of right now, I'm not going to actually write the book, just the assigned proposal. But I'm having to do so much research I might as well go ahead and write the thing.)

And now, I invite you, dear readers, to answer the same question. Strongest and weakest? Best and worst? Awesomest and most useless?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

IRL




I felt like an elf today.

Note little gray fluffball Artemis. My animal companion.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Jade Dynasty, revisited


I've been playing Jade Dynasty again. I feel different about it this time around--better--probably because I don't have the pressure of writing that review paper.

It's a great game for relaxation, and I can switch back and forth between it and homework pretty easily. I think they've added a few new music tracks, so it's not as monotonous to listen to.

I think that right now my only serious issue with the game is the player interaction. I mean, the lack thereof. Nobody talks. Ever. Not even in world chat, which in Perfect World is full of trashtalk, confessions of love, and references to nerd culture. Players in Jade Dynasty only use it to sell things. And common chat is always totally dead, even on the weekends.

I think there are a few reasons. For one thing, there are too many realms... there are only 2 servers, but each server is divided into about a dozen different realms, self-contained replicas of the same world. You might call them different instances. You can move between them, and world chat reaches all of them, but you only actually see the other players that are in your realm.

I really miss randomly bumping into people and striking up conversations with them. I've only actually had discourse with 2 players in the whole time I've been playing. (And they haven't been on since.)

I'm lonely.

Monday, October 5, 2009

I'm a noob. A sad noob.

Today is the first day I've ever felt like a total loser while playing an online game.

I've been trying out Dungeons and Dragons Online, and it's been fun, even though it's very different than the games I'm used to. Combat is more difficult and requires more concentration; skills, stats, and leveling up are all WAY more complicated, and the community is... Dungeons and Dragons guys.

This means the chat window is packed full of debate about whether it's better to be a ranger/rogue or a rogue/ranger, etc., and most of it goes straight over my head.

It's possible to do most quests alone, but you can go back with a party and do it on a higher difficulty for more experience and loot. When someone asks you to join a party, it's most likely because they want to do some hardcore experience grinding. That's what these guys tonight were after when they recruited my level 2 paladin, Hausse Heiathan.

I had trouble finding the dungeons. I couldn't figure out how to make my heal kit work, so I couldn't resurrect a guy who had died. I misread my character sheet. About the only thing I could be counted on to do was to flail my sword around wildly and apologize for messing up.

While we were doing one quest on the hardest difficulty possible, 3 of us died and Schmoopy got disconnected. Xade, or whatever his name was, kept shouting for someone to take his soul stone to the resurrection shrine.

Death is so confusing in DDO. I still don't really understand how it works. Apparently when you die your body lies on the ground, a soul stone hovers above this body, and you also turn into a ghost, which can run around for a limited distance.

I ran with my ghost to the resurrection shrine, came back to life, and re-entered the fray.

Oh, guess what? If you leave the room where the boss is, you automatically fail the quest.

"Damn it, Hausse!" said Xade.

I couldn't handle it. I left the squad. Then I signed off. Then I started writing this pathetic blog post about how hurt my feelings are. I can't shake the feeling that people would cut me more slack if I used my female character instead of manly Hausse.

I think I'll go back to playing pretty Asian games where everyone is nice.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Meiri is lonely.


I dreamed last night that someone asked Meirizhu to join a faction.

Alas, it was but a dream.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Jade Dynasty... the game that plays itself.


Jade Dynasty is great. I've never had more fun not playing a game.

It's good-looking. The environments are pretty and full of blossoming cherry trees and such. The music, however, is less than stunning. It's pleasant, but it's bland, plinky, tuneless stuff. Also, the developers ripped one track straight from PWI and stuck it in Jade Dynasty, hoping no one would notice. Some of the ground textures looked a bit familiar, too.

One of the most interesting things about Jade Dynasty is this: everyone is sexy. Character creation was disappointing in that I had 7 faces to choose from and 7 hair styles to choose from. No control over coloring or build. So, of course, I kept running into clones of my character, which was annoying. On the flip side, it's impossible to create an ugly character. All the same, more options would be nice. I wanted to make another Mary Sue.

Jade Dynasty seems to have a more structured plot than PW. The problem is that it doesn't make any sense. You travel from area to area finding out more about the life of some great hero who turned into a great villain and now nobody knows what to do with him. Why should you care? Frankly I don't see what this noble Shaw Danon of Jadeon, who defected and became the villainous Velonus of Vim, has to do with me.

This brings me to the subject of factions. The terminology is confusing, because in PW a faction is what Jade Dynasty calls a clan, but in Jade Dynasty a faction is what PW calls a class. Your faction determines your weapons, armor, and skills. You have five choices, and here's the rundown on each:

  • Jadeon, pompous pricks in bathrobes with swords.
  • Skysong, happy healer monks.
  • Vim, who use two swords stuck together.
  • Lupin, crazy dancers who use circular glaives.
  • Modo, gothic ninjas with claws.

I find it highly entertaining that the first two of these factions are arbitrarily labeled "Good" and the other three "Evil," especially since at the earlier levels the difference between this so-called "Good" and "Evil" is pretty hard to see.

How does Jade Dynasty handle? Pretty well, over all... perhaps too well. There are many convenient features, my favorite of which is Auto-route. This allows you to click on a destination from your quest menu and your character finds the shortest way there.

Once you're near your quarry, you can press another button to "Invigorate"--automatically attack everything in range. All you have to do is check every once in a while to make sure nothing has killed you.

If you do get close to dying, you can Meditate to regain health and magic power... also experience points. Continuously. For doing nothing. I once left my character meditating overnight, and when I woke up in the morning he'd gained five levels.

The first fifteen or so levels are ridiculously easy, too. Enemies are stupid and sluggish, and you start out with a skill that kills them in one hit, anyway. It's possible to get to level 15 in one evening and still have time for Facebook.

I have a theory. Jade Dynasty is a relatively new game; it's only been out for four months. I think the developers are trying to get a lot of really high-level players quickly. There's a chance that in future updates and patches the difficulty curve might steepen as the ranks of Jade Dynasty players swell--right now, there aren't a lot of players, and they're spread out over too many different servers.

I still recommend Jade Dynasty. I mean, why not? It is free, after all, so there's nothing to lose except some hard drive space. It's pretty and relaxing. It's also a great game for multi-taskers, since you can play it without actually playing it. If you don't find that self-defeating, you'll love Jade Dynasty. If, however, you're an experienced gamer looking for a challenge, or an internet socialite looking for a new community, Jade Dynasty might not be a good choice for you yet. Check back in a few months or a year when it's not fresh on the market anymore.

Believe it or not, this review is the condensed version. If you want the 3 1/2 page monstrosity I wrote for class, let me know and I'll get it to you.

Lol.


Nothing is sadder than an emo panda.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Prepare yourself.


Whether or not I'm burned out on the game, the review I'm writing of Jade Dynasty is looooooooooooong. The professor requires three pages. My outline was two pages long. I'll try to cut the review down for this blog, but know that I do have a lot more to say about the game. Let me know if you want the full scoop and I'll send it to you in all its rambling glory.

Also, the Blade Slaves are too sexy to be enemies, in my opinion.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Burned out


When I'm done writing this review of Jade Dynasty for my Writing About the Arts class, I don't think I'll ever play it again.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Back to gender studies.



I know I promised this post would be another review. There are two reasons it's not.

The first reason is that I'm still working on the reviews. One of them actually turned into a class project.

The other reason is that I'm afraid I'll get away from the original purpose of this blog, which is not to talk about actual gameplay as it is to talk about game players and their interactions with each other--focusing particularly on how girl gamers are treated.

I've found that people usually assume players are the same gender as their characters, and it's often--not always--true. It's also easier to find help and friends when you're playing as a girl.

The other night I was playing Jade Dynasty (as Merisu, the scary broad in the picture) and befriended Jack (not his full name). Jack and I chatted, killed monsters, and compared silly outfits together and eventually wound up exchanging AIM screennames. It wasn't until the next day, when I mentioned my boyfriend, that he realized I was a girl.

Maybe at one point I may have been offended at this, but now I feel gratified.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

WoW fails to wow me.

I haven't gotten back into my Perfect World routine after this summer's hiatus, so I figured this would be a good time to branch out and give some other games a shot. I think being familiar with other MMORPGs would give me better perspective when I'm writing about games.

So far, I've tried three other games. I haven't played any of them long enough to write a book about them, but I'll give you my impressions of each: World of Warcraft in this post, and Guild Wars and Jade Dynasty in future posts.
How could I honestly call myself a gamer if I've never played WoW? It's probably the best-known online RPG, associated with the stereotypical nerdy, anti-social, micro-managing, unhygienic, acne-prone men living in their mother's basement. (This is unfair and untrue.)
Downloading and installing the 10-day trial was pretty quick and easy. Dialog boxes were helpful and friendly but never condescending. I was feeling pretty good about it when I actually fired up the game.
I only played the game for about 15 minutes. I spent 10 minutes of that in character creation trying to make a night elf pretty.
Other people have done it. I've seen the screenshots. But I'm not sure how they managed it with the rather limited options. There's was no way to make her not purple, not have creepy blank eyes, and not built like a rap star's girlfriend. Honestly, I never really thought of elves as being chunky, but even her ears were fat. I checked to make sure the window's resolution was correct for my wide-screen computer--yeah, I had it set correctly. The models are just on the thick side.
Obviously there's a different aesthetic in WoW than what I'm used to, but that's O.K. Lots of people still like it.
I gave up and entered the game. The first thing I noticed was PURPLE. Well, I guess it makes sense that purple elves should live in a purple forest. I looked up some screenshots of other areas, and not everything is purple--there's a lot of variety in the terrain and environments. I rather like that. Very majestic. I just wish I didn't have to start off swimming in purple.
The interface was honestly a bit overwhelming. There were zillions of toolbars right away--most of them were empty, waiting to be filled up with skills, but they still intimidated me. I found the chat system cumbersome, probably just because I was used to different controls.
Speaking of chat, half of my chat window was filled with gibberish. Excuse me, orcish.
Then there's the combat. Instead of double-clicking on things to attack, use, or talk to, you left-click to select and then right-click to activate. This strikes me as counter-intuitive, but again, I'm just used to something different.
I think I killed one wild boar, or whatever it was, before I decided that WoW wasn't for me. I wasn't a fan of the way it looked or handled.
In retrospect, I think I just didn't give it enough time. Unfortunately my 10-day free trial is up. But it's not too late for you. Don't write off something that so many people love just because I fussed about the chunky night elves. You might join the legions of diehard WoW addicts, even if I don't.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Starting afresh


What do I do when the going gets tough?

I freak out and start over from scratch.

Rather than trying to make new friends and find a new faction for Meirizhu and Siloam, I just made a new character: Idumea the Blademaster, a cliche feisty redhead.

I've been enjoying playing as Idumea so far. Already made a couple of friends. Joined a faction, which died the next day.

I had expected people to shorten the name, but I wasn't expecting meadea, which is what one guy calls me. It's kind of adorable, though.

By no means am I going to retire Meiri and Sil. I'm too attached to them. But they're probably going to be on the bench for a little while.

Fears: confirmed.

My faction is dead. Utterly moribund. Over the summer it went from around 60 members to around 8. Of those, 4 are either my characters or characters I was building for a friend.

I don't know what happened. There wasn't a change of leadership. Maybe there was just a mass migration to another faction. I don't know.

All I know is that I'm sad.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My triumphant return

Well, I'm back in Savannah, typing this from my awesomely fast computer on my awesomely fast internet. Life is good.

I think I've already established that I'm super weird, but here's even more evidence:

All this summer I've been looking forward to being able to play Perfect World again. Well, I've been in Savannah three days and I still haven't touched the PWI icon on my desktop.

It's not that I haven't thought about it or don't want to. I'm just... scared. I don't know why. Maybe I'm afraid everything will be different, or my faction will have kicked me out, or everyone will be 60 levels higher than me and not want anything to do with me.

I'm being silly. I can make new friends. I can figure this out.

Being shy and paranoid in real life is bad enough... being shy and paranoid in a game is worse.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Extreme Makeover: Armor Edition!

Ok, ok, so today's title is super corny, but deal with it. Gosh, now I feel like even more of a nerd than I did when I realized I was designing clothes for my Perfect World character.

I'm sorry, but the people who designed the women's armor in Perfect World were definitely men. Bra, miniskirt, and stiletto-heeled hooker boots are not sensible battle attire.
The boots probably bother me more than anything else, mostly because I hate running in heels so much that I project my own pain onto the sprites.

My alternate character, Siloam, can probably get away with the heels. Since she's a cleric, she spends most of her time hovering benevolently over the field of battle dispensing healing spells. Meirizhu, however, is an archer, and archers do a lot of running away from werewolves.
So I took the heels off the boots, covered up most of the vital organs with metal or leather, and gave her pants. I won't try to fool myself or anyone else into thinking that this new armor is 100% practical, but I think it makes a little more sense.

The color scheme is still up for debate. I have six prepared at the moment. You can find all six here if you're interested. The one shown here is my favorite, but I'd like to hear any suggestions.

Siloam's next. She's going to get a pretty new robe.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Hello, and goodbye again.


I am submitting this from the Chester County Public Library. When it comes to Perfect World, I'm still afk. And I think I'm obsessed, because I still think about it all the time... ah, well.

If you miss me, you can visit my DeviantART site... not that it's been updated too recently, thanks to the filter here, but it has some of my writings and scribblings.

I know I miss you guys!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Shout outs, thank yous, and going afk

Well, guys, it's been a good run.

But now my Writing for the Web class has come to an end, and so I'm no longer required by the injunction of my professor to maintain this blog.

I've gained a lot experience points, learned some new skills, and leveled up a few times. And here are some people I'd like to thank for that:
  • My class and professor, for sticking with me whether they wanted to or not and giving great constructive criticism.
  • Rod, Kristei, and Tokada, for all the random comments. You guys rock.
  • My faction, for their patience and humor. *Salutes King, bows to Ling, pokes Kit and Teh, and shakes Thug's hand... err, paw*
  • Ero, for introducing me to sharks.
  • Tamar, for taking me seriously.
  • All those idiots in world chat who brighten my day.
  • and lastly, you, anyone who has ever read this blog. Especially those of you who leave comments. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
This is not the end!

I have decided that I love blogging way too much to give it up just because I'm no longer getting a grade on it. So I'll keep playing Perfect World and keep updating this blog as often as I can!

Unfortunately, I'm going to be spending the next 3 months sojourning in the Land of Dial-Up Internet, with brief visits to the Wireless Embassy whenever I can. So I can't guarantee regular posts.

But I can guarantee that I will never forget you guys . . . so please don't forget me!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

World chat. Lulz.

Tonight was frustrating for a variety of reasons, but world chat, at least, did not fail to amuse.



Darn me for being nice!

I was stood up twice this evening.

The first was a bossy little 14-year-old prima donna Blademaster. I was playing as Siloam and understandably having some difficulty fighting alone, so I squadded with her, since we were both after ghouls. Then she asked if I would stay and help her with wolfkins and quillhogs.

Because I am a nice person, I said yes. Because I am a nice person, I also let her have some of my mana potions--which, by the way, are far more important to me as a cleric than to her as a bm. I only had 16. I split them with her.

Mana potions aren't expensive, so giving them away isn't a big deal. However, it is customary, in polite circles, to make some sort of offering in return, just as a gesture of thanks. A few soft furs, for example, or a couple of dull claws. This girl gave nothing. Nor did she offer to buy me some when we got back to town.

And, of course, I was too nice to ask her to.

She also had the nerve to bitch at me when I ran out of mana and couldn't heal her constantly.

She was a bm. Her name involved the word "tanker." She should not have needed continuous healing spells.

Long story short, for some reason I agreed that we would stay together for our next quests. I went, picked up the quests, sold my furs, bought some replacement potions, and sat outside the city gates to wait for her.

After about 20 minutes: "Sorry, I have to go!" she said. Leaving me to do all my quests by myself.

Enter a gallant archer who also needed help. We got along quite well. He was sturdy and dealt good damage. He complimented me on my healing abilities. Quests were a breeze. Being in a squad with him was so pleasant I agreed to help him on quests I had no need for.

When it came time for the next round of quests, we stuck together. Or, at least, we planned to. Until he had to sign off suddenly. After I had waited for him at the spawn point for about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

And, speaking of marriage...

I have a sneaking suspicion that two members of my faction are thinking about tying the knot. They should. They work really well together.

This prospect makes me want to go "SQUEEEEEEEEEEE!" with cute girlish delight.

Also make dirty jokes about "grinding." Faction chat was a mess of it last night, and I found it highly entertaining.

Here's another weird thing about marriage in PWI: many players have more than one character. So you could conceivably have two characters... or more... married to different people. I don't think my brain could handle doing that.

Mawwiage.


I realized today that I have neglected to mention one of the weirdest things about Perfect World:

You can get married.

Yes, you can pay some gold for a wedding pack and visit an NPC called the Eldest Matchmaker and get hitched to your sweetie... or whoever answers your world chat message proclaiming "RICH SEXXY BM LOOKIN 4 HOT WIFE W/ BIG BOOBS!! PM ME!!!!1"

Benefits of being married are, as I see it, threefold:
  • As a wedding gift, you receive a bunch of items. That do something. I'm not sure what.
  • When you grind with your spouse (oh, the puns!), you get extra experience from the enemies you kill.
  • From that day forward a sign floats above your head, over your name and your faction's name: "So-and-so's Wife/Husband." Because you can never have too much text hat.
Then, of course, there's also the system announcement that proclaims to the entire server that the two of you are now husband and wife. This is usually followed by a cascade of world chat and private messages, from other players you may or may not know, congratulating you.

It seems there are two main attitudes toward marriage.

Some people take it really really seriously. They tell each other in world chat--which, by the way, costs money--how they will love them forever. This is kind of creepy... but I have to fight the urge to also call it sweet.

Then there are other people who forget they're married, cuddling and smooching other players. Adultery, I say! Disgusting! This can cause some drama in world chat... some calling of names, some character assassination, etc.

Luckily, it is possible to divorce your cheating spouse! Yes, for 2 million coins you can annul a marriage.

I will never forget this message I saw in world chat one day: "WANT TO SELL MY CLOTHES SO I CAN DIVORCE WIFE. PM ME."

Then, later, "WIFE FOR SALE, 2 MIL."

I have mixed feelings about the whole idea of marriage in a game.

On the one hand, it's just silly. I mean, it's a game. Let's not be obsessive here. There's something a little creepy about "marrying" someone you've probably never met in person--even if it's not a true marriage, it's a facsimile thereof.

On the other hand... I'm tempted. Marriage is just cute. Every time I see characters holding each other, some part of me goes, "Awwwwwwww!" And it would be nice to have someone to rely on for help killing things and questing.

I would never consider marrying some random player. It would have to be someone I had spent a lot of time talking to, someone near my level, someone I already did a lot of grinding (*snicker, snicker*) with. And I don't have anybody like that right now.

Kind of like in real life.

Funny how that works.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Character farming feels weird.


It's such a weird feeling, playing as someone else's character. Kind of like sleeping in someone else's room. I still haven't gotten used to leveling up Kristei and Rod's characters for them.

It's especially weird playing as Rodneye, for two reasons.

The first is just that I'm not used to playing as a dude. I got out of the habit a long time ago. I feel a strange urge to put a disclaimer on all my chats: I'm actually a chick!

The second is that I used to go questing and grinding playing as Liulen or Meirizhu, in a squad with Rod playing as Rodneye.

It's a whole new perspective.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Everybody else has one!

I don't need one. I don't particularly want one. I don't even know what they're good for.

But everybody else has a genie, and I feel left out.

What is a genie, you ask? I'm not sure, myself. I only know that it's a small, cute, colorful little thing that circles around your character and sucks your experience points.

The addition of genies seems to be the extent of the long-awaited "expansion pack." Not to knock the fine folks who design Perfect World, because I obviously adore this game . . . but you pretty much already had genies, except they were called angels and you had to buy them.

Genies are free, though; you just have to ask an NPC for them. So, of course, EVERYONE has a genie now. Even though nobody is really sure what they do. As a dear faction mate said in his lovely Engrish, "Not yet discover the beauty usefulness of it yet."

Well, I'm trying to wait until someone discovers the beauty usefulness of genies and tells me what it is. I don't like getting things that don't have a point, especially if they're going to suck my experience.



In the meantime, I'm going to just feel left out. Like in this picture. You can see Kay's purple genie hovering over her shoulder, and OrangeElf's green genie just behind him. And my cute flying thing, Nugget. Not really the same effect.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Apologies and excuses

I've wronged you, dear Readers, and I'm sorry. I haven't been posting for a while, but I have several reasons:
  • I'm nearing the end of this quarter in school, so I have about a million things to read, write, and study for.
  • I also have to pack up nearly all my earthly belongings for storage or transport home to Tennessee for the summer.
  • I've been helping various friends with time-consuming projects, including dressing up as Pippi Longstocking.
  • I've been feeling self-conscious about my blog. One of my classmates expressed dislike for the subject. She wasn't nasty about it, but I still feel like I'm back in high school being teased by the popular girls.
  • And, finally, I'm lazy.
There is hope, though! It's looking like my friends Kristei and Tokada are going to start writing guest posts before too long. So, hopefully, even if I stay busy and can't update very often, there will still be updates.

Until then, here's a flat-color drawing I did of my characters, Meirizhu and Siloam. It was going to be my avatar for my faction's forum, but it didn't shrink well.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Falling down on the job


I'm sorry, guys. But I tried. I really did try to find something interesting to blog about, since it's been a few days since the last post.

(No ragging on my artwork. I did it in like 5 minutes)

Unfortunately nobody has done anything amusing, and I myself have been in a state of ennui for the past few days.

Managing Rodneye's and Kristei's characters is nowhere near as much fun as hanging out with them. My faction's been pretty quiet. I haven't made any new friends.

Worst of all, I've been feeling insecure! In an online game, with characters I designed myself specifically to be appealing and attractive! It's getting harder for me to forget what I am in real life, and harder to remember that I can be whatever I want in the game.

Whatever I want, that is, except confident.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

It's not eavesdropping if it's common chat.

At least, that's my firm belief. So I didn't feel too guilty for screenshotting the following conversation between a cute female elf named Silveste and a lovestruck male elf named WeedInhaler:



"I hope you guys know I'm totally screenshotting this," I told them. And he called me a bitch and I flew away.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Welcome to the farm.

I recently agreed to log in with my friend Rod's account and do some work on his character, Rodneye, a Blademaster. Rod's computer is on the blink, but he doesn't want Rodneye to languish and pine and be left behind in levels before he can get it fixed. I'm happy to help out a friend, and it's kind of fun.

Then Rod's sister Kristei asked me to work on her Wizard character, appropriately named Kristei, and her new Venomancer, Somonia. I agreed to these, too, despite having 3 of my own characters.



"Careful, Rita," teased my ex, Al. "You might get caught up in the seedy business of experience farming."

It is a lot on my plate, along with school and a part-time job, but I'm enjoying it so far and taking it slow. I'm focusing on Rodneye and Somonia for now, since Kristei the Wizard is at a higher level than either of them.

I work with each of them once every couple of days, trying to raise them at least one level per session. I e-mail frequent progress reports to Kristei and Rod. It's kind of cool! I feel like I'm managing a team, or something.

I've played a Blademaster before, and they're pretty straightforward. But I was nervous about training a veno. Luckily my faction has a lot of high-level venos, and they've been very helpful about answering my questions.

This is a good opportunity for me to learn about the PROPER way to build a character—checking the forums and consulting higher levels, planning the allotment of growth points, deciding early what skills to get. With my characters, I've always just kind of messed around, learning from my mistakes with Liulen but otherwise playing it by ear. But I'd be pretty upset with myself if I messed up someone else's character.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Name the chicken!

Something random happened to me today. A guy gave me a free pet. We squadded together for a quest, and when it was done and we were saying our thank-yous and goodbyes, I complimented the pretty bird following him around.

"You want it?" he said. Apparently he had a few spares lying around.

Baby Elysium Fowls aren't good for a lot except flapping around your head and getting in the way of people trying to target you. They're basically just big, pretty, decorative flying chickens. But you don't have to feed them or train them, and this guy was offering one to me free. How can I turn down a free animal?

So now I have a Baby Elysium Fowl. It has a disturbing habit of hovering just above Meirizhu's head, a little too close for comfort. I have an irrational fear it's going to poop in her hair. It makes cute little cheeping noises.



But now I have a problem. What am I going to name this big, pretty chicken? I've had a couple of ideas and suggestions already:
  • Zephyrus
  • Elysian
  • KFC
  • The Colonel
If any of you guys have any other ideas, let me know in the comments! My pet must have a name!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Righteous wrath

I am extraordinarily ticked off at my roommate right now. He was late on our internet bill and we've been disconnected.

You know what this means. No Perfect World until Monday! Gaaaaaaaaaaahhh!

This is really bad timing, too. Not only have I just now gotten back in touch with long-lost Rodneye and Kristei--hooray!--but my best friend from back home just started playing. I'm going crazy not being able to play with these people!

Roommate, you know who you are. Vengeance will be mine.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Trying so hard not to be shallow

I will not buy a new dress. I will not buy a new dress. I will be content with my armor. I will be content.

This is what I keep telling myself. Up until this point, it hasn't been hard. But the new Plumed Embrace outfit would look so cute on Meirizhu!

The problem is that I'm poor. There are two kinds of currency in PWI: coins, which you earn for stuff you do in the game, and gold pieces, which you pay for with a credit card. If you want to buy gold pieces, the minimum you have to shell out is $50. That would get me enough gold to buy tons of Plumed Embrace outfits. There's no way I'm dishing out that much actual money, though.

There is an alternative. I'm sitting on a small pile of mirage celestones, semi-precious little rocks you can use to upgrade equipment. It really doesn't make sense to do that, though, until you're at a super-high level and keeping your weapons for a long time. So, do I keep stockpiling them until I'm level 60, or do I sell them and buy pretty clothes from another player?

I can't believe this is even an issue. I used to think it was so silly to dress up your character in clothes that don't help in combat.

But, like I told Thug, I have to make some concession to girliness.

Monday, April 20, 2009

What do you say?

What do you say when somebody asks you if you're as pretty in real life as you are in the game? Really? What do you say? I know this guy was only trying to pay me a compliment, but actually it made me feel kind of crappy. I designed Meirizhu to be an idealized version of myself. Me, only pretty.

So no. I'm not as pretty in real life. I'm skinny and redheaded but the similarities end there. She has flawless skin and decent boobs and she's tall. I'm shrimpy and boyish-looking and I have acne. I'm not saying no one has ever told me I'm pretty. But come on. I probably wouldn't be playing this game if I thought I was gorgeous. I'd be off... being sexy, or something... I don't know.

Well, there ya have it, boys. Enjoy Meirizhu and Siloam for what they are and not for what they represent.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Goodbye, Liu!

It is with sadness and regret that I announce the retirement of Blademaster Liulen as an active character.

We were doing just fine until after the big boss quest at level 19. When I got the special weapon that was a quest reward, I realized Liu didn't have enough strength points to equip it.

I made the journey to the big city of Archosaur, anyway, where I was the only Blademaster who didn't have my big glowy spear equipped. It was three more levels, very difficult levels, of pouring every growth point I earned into strength, before I could finally equip it and compete with all the other Blademasters.

By then, though, I was getting really frustrated. I dealt less damage and was less sturdy than other Blademasters my level. The truth of it was, I had built Liulen wrong, putting too many points into magic and dexterity. In my attempt to make a well-rounded character, I made a useless one.

My immediate reaction was making Siloam, a Cleric, and I've really enjoyed playing as her. But I miss mindless hacking away as a Blademaster, so I'm starting a new one: a sexy male named Bassai.

Yep, that's me. I get frustrated, I start over from scratch.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Elves are snobs.



Above you see three Clerics and one Archer. Having a squad of three healers and one ranged attack is not particularly efficient, but it is fun.

Few things are more hilarious than a squad made up entirely of 4 or 5 female Clerics running around trying to kill things. (According to one of my faction mates, few things are also hotter.)

This happens pretty often when I'm playing as my Cleric. I always ask for help, since it's really hard to do things alone as a Cleric. The people who answer my pleas for help are those who understand my position--basically, other Clerics.

That's why so often I find myself in a troupe of lightweight chicks frantically throwing spells at Ursogs and dying after every other skirmish. One evening it was a constant parade back and forth between the respawn point and the enemy territory.

If you don't let it frustrate you, it's amusing.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Excuse me for liking men.

Let me just start by saying that I really enjoy the faction that my characters Meirizhu and Siloam belong to. It's full of fun, talkative people, and a good handful of them are women near my age who share some of my interests.

Perhaps it's not too surprising that we spend a lot of time in faction chat discussing--and arguing about--the sexiness of Johnny Depp, Vin Diesel, Viggo Mortensen, and other men. And we are quite honest and specific about how we feel about them.

Usually other faction members are amused, indifferent, or just weirded out by these discussions.

Today, though, someone in the faction was offended, and asked us that if we were going to "trash talk" we should do it in private chat rather than faction chat.

Well, whether she was being oversensitive or not, we agreed to keep our discussions private. I think it was silly, but I'd rather not cause offense and drama within the faction. Or get kicked out for starting trouble.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

"Outside"

My friend sent me this picture, saying it made him think of me.

I'm amused, but also slightly offended.

Friday, April 10, 2009

No, I'm not looking for a "bf."

It's kind of sad but almost cute when a male player asks a female player to be his in-game girlfriend.

Unless, of course, said male player is 35 years old and pops the question to someone he's never spoken to before. Then it's just creepy.

On a side note, I think it's ironic that "gf" can mean either "girlfriend" or "good fight."

No Hablo

Today was Official Address Rita's Character in a Foreign Language Day.

It's happened before. There are a surprising number of Spanish-speaking players on my server, several German-speakers, and some Italians and French. It is, after all, Perfect World International.

I asked a guy to join my squad because I noticed we seemed to be killing the same things. He was helpful, but I quickly became frustrated when he wouldn't answer any of my questions. I tried common chat, squad chat, and even personal messages, and he didn't say a word. I'd already killed my quota, and if he was done, too, what was the point of going on?

Finally, he stopped running around. I stood directly in front of him and, calling him by name, I asked in common chat (which makes the words float above your character's head), "HOW MANY MORE OF THESE THINGS DO YOU NEED KILLED?"

He responded with a request to carry me. I was dumbstruck. Was he stupid or just a jerk? But then he said, "Si o no?"

This explained much. I was sorry I'd been mad at him, but what could I do except say "No hablo espanol" and leave the squad?

Later on, while I was playing as the same character--Siloam, my elf Cleric--some guy in Plume randomly whispered "hi." I'm always apprehensive when people whisper me for no reason, so I said, "Hi..."

"Wie gehts dir so" the guy replied.

No hablo German, either!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Boys are fun.


I really enjoy teenage boys. Not in a creepy way; they just amuse me and they're fun to hang out with. Especially when, like my PWI friends, they have just the right balance of machismo and sensitivity. And it's always nicer to have someone to go questing with. Someone to take some of your hits. Someone to wail over your dead body if you're killed by an aggressive mongoose, then commit suicide so you can both rendezvous at the respawn point. Yes, I have done that, and I'm not alone, either.

Questing and running around with these PWI guys reminds me of living in Minnesota many years ago, when my best friends were the neighbor boys. They had at their disposal several acres of farm, a four-wheeler, and a healthy taste for adventure. Whether we were catching frogs, falling off hay bales, or simply chasing each other with sticks, we had fun.

So I guess, as it turns out, one of the reasons I play PWI is to relive the halcyon days of youth. Only this time it's cactopods, fortress walls, and swords instead of frogs, hay bales and sticks.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

"Blue_Wind wants to carry you. Accept?"




Here's a little event that happened a while ago, but it's relevant to the way I'm feeling right now.

It was probably only the first or second day that I'd been playing as Meirizhu. At any rate, I was at a low level. I was hanging out in Plume, the lovely city of the elves, when I received a notice:

“Blue_Wind wants to carry you. Do you accept? Yes/No”

I'd never gotten a notice like this. Duurrrrrrr, I wonder what that means, I thought, and pressed “yes.”

Next thing I knew I was in the arms of a handsome young archer, my booted feet dangling.

“Hi,” Blue Wind whispered.

So this is what it means to be carried, I thought. Why didn't I guess? I found out later that carrying someone or being carried fills up your chi gauge, which allows you to execute special techniques. Therefore it's not uncommon for male characters to ask random female passersby for “a chi spark,” though usually they have other motives that are less pragmatic.

I don't know about chi sparks at the time, so I didn't know if that's what Blue Wind was after, but he quite gallantly asked if I needed help with any quests.

I thought about my current quarry, cactopods, which usually died after two hits, and rolled my eyes. Chauvinist pig.

“No, I'm all right,” is what I actually said. And then, I went on: “Thank you, though. Quite chivalrous.” And I politely asked him to set me down.

At the time, I was slightly miffed. The nerve of him, scooping me up and then patronizing me! But later on I began to melt. It was still less than a week since my boyfriend of a year and a half had dumped me, and I was stressing out about school, too, considering switching majors. I felt overwhelmed and very, very alone. I think some part of me actually wanted someone to drop out of the sky, pick me up, and offer to help me with anything I needed.

And that's kind of what I want right now.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rodneye


I feel my writings in this blog have neglected an important part of my Perfect World experience, and that is my dear friend Rodneye the Blademaster.

I owe this boy a lot. The beginning of my acquaintance with Rodneye also marks the time I actually started participating in Perfect World as a multi-player game.

We met at the beginning of spring break, which happened to be the same week for both of us. Free of the shackles of school and work, we went exploring all night, traveling pretty much all over the map by the end of the week. We frolicked on the mountains with the Ostial Centipexes. In the proud, ancient city of Archosaur, we swam in the fountain. And once, somehow, we got stuck in a volcanic wasteland surrounded by some of the strongest enemies in the game. A compassionate level 80 Blademaster had to lead us out.

Rodneye is the one who invited me into my first faction--which so happens to be directed by his sister Kristei. Then, despite my protests, he talked Kristei into rapidly promoting me.

"I hope you know you're pretty much my best online friend," he said to me once. It was one of the last things he said; he hasn't been online in over a week. He could be occupied with school, or, for all I know, he could be grounded from the computer. But his sister hasn't been online either, and I'm worried about them.

It might be time for me to give up on Rod, but I still check my friends list every time I'm on, looking for him.

Here's to you, Rod, my best online friend. I hope you come back soon.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Just for the record...

...I don't particularly like being a scary androgynous bitch.

I had a good system going with Liulen. She was a persona I assumed well. While playing as Liulen, I am delicate, friendly, and feminine, despite the plate armor and gigantic sword.

Recently I met a fascinating wizard. With his linguistic acrobatics, bizarre sense of humor, and awkwardly chauvinist pick-up techniques he reminds me strongly of one of my ex-boyfriends. Maybe it was because I felt I already knew him that I found myself being more honest with this wizard than with anyone else I talk to on Perfect World. Thus it was that Liulen turned into an aggressive, castrating, sarcastic grammar nazi... in other words, me on a bad day.

His shtick is asking girls if they want to ride on his flying sword. (He does actually have one; the flying swords are kind of cool.) Today he asked me, "Hey, are you a girl? If so, want a ride on my sword?" This pissed me off beyond reason. I've thought it odd that people usually assume players in PWI are actually the gender of their character. Well, here was someone not making that blind assumption. Good for him, right?

The thing was, I'd been talking to this guy for a while, and he still didn't fully believe I was a girl. But that's ok, too, right? Gender shouldn't really matter in a world where players make no physical contact with each other.

I guess I might still be bitter from the time I got my hair cut like Bruce Lee's and everyone kept calling me "sir."

Eventually he excused himself, citing faction business as his reason. I ran into him later in the city chatting with a Venomancer. Fully aware of the awkwardness of the situation, he said, "Holy shit... uhh, want to ride my sword, Liulen?"

Friday, March 27, 2009

*Headdesk*

I don't do a lot of either world chat or common chat in PWI, but I do keep an eye on what others are saying. Every once in a while I come across something like this and have a sudden urge to slam my forehead onto my desk.


Later on, though, I found a rare piece of true wit.

Link to study on gender identity and avatars

When my friend Tamar learned about this blog, he showed me an article from Investigaming on gender identity and gaming avatar preferences.

This study says that there is surprisingly little difference between male preferences for avatar choice and female preferences. Both genders seem to prefer exaggerated, over-sexualized body types; however, both genders also prefer less-revealing costumes. Both genders shun negative female stereotypes and are attracted to positive stereotypes--I'm pretty much quoting the article, here; what's an example of a positive stereotype?

I do wish I could get Meirizhu some more modest clothes. Light armor in PWI apparently consists of bra, miniskirt, and heeled boots.

Anyway, go ahead and check out the article here. I, for one, am skeptical of its validity, since the authors don't mention their research methods. But judge for yourself. It's an interesting read, at least.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Characters

I love character creation. It's my favorite part of games. I've made a bunch of Perfect World International characters, most of them hunky men. What can I say? I like men so much better than I like women. But I never made it very far into the game with these male characters before I got bored. No one talked to me. And I wanted to try out one of the winged elves. So I made Meirizhu, a female Archer.



She looks just like me!




Well, sort of. She looks like what I wish I looked like.

I liked Meirizhu a lot and played with her for a while but one day got a strong, bizarre urge to make a character who was actually sexy. So I made an elf Cleric with curly blonde hair, big blue eyes, petite frame and big boobs. But that was far too cliché. So I made her a Blademaster and got her the heaviest armor and the biggest, most ridiculous sword I could buy. Behold Liulen, the doll-faced tank and favorite of the gents.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Introduction

Hello, everyone, and thank you for visiting my blog! Here I'll be chronicling my adventures in Perfect World, an MMORPG. I'll be focusing in particular on what it's like to be a female player and how my female characters are treated. What a fun project! It combines so many of my interests: writing, gaming, and quasi-feminist ranting!

Perfect World International is structured a lot like World of Warcraft (WoW), but it's prettier, more Asian, and FREE.

If you're interested in online games—or even if you aren't—go ahead and check out www.perfectworld.com. You might find Perfect World as enjoyable as I do! And if you play on the server Sanctuary, you can meet my characters. I'll introduce them in the next post.