Platitudes. Everyone speaks them, few understand how utterly obnoxious they can be. Rewind to a few months ago, I was on my ventrilo server (as in my, I own it) with my guild mates from Guild Wars. Allow me to sort of explain that, the Guild Wars thing I mean. You see, I purchased Guild Wars a long time ago, actually about four years ago when it first came out for the PC. I was looking for an RPG to play online with my friends that wasn’t an MMO. Since Guild Wars is a co-operative role playing game and not a persistent world MMO, I thought I would enjoy it. Little did I know the horrors that awaited me. Little did I know…
Let me plant a visual in your head to sort of describe the game play experience I’ve had while playing Guild Wars. You see, Guild Wars allows you to play solo, by bringing AI henchmen. You can’t solo a god damn thing unless you’re farming or vastly experienced, and the first expansion was so bug ridden you had to do some missions five times in a row in order to enchant each piece of your equipment, leading to annoyance and mostly rage. The first six months I sort of struggled through Guild Wars was kind of like fighting that crazy asshole Mike Tyson in an electrified cage when he’s got boxing gloves that are actually spiked gauntlets and I’m armed only with a really soft pillow and armor made out of novelty plastic ears. I chose a Warrior, because I always enjoy getting the Melee classes to do neat little tricks. I decided to make my secondary class Elementalist. So I’d be basically a Spellsword. If you’ve played guild wars you know where this is going, if you haven’t let me tell you something about that combination of classes… it only works in specialized circumstances, or when you know what the fuck you are doing. Thankfully, I didn’t. So I gleefully wandered around getting killed, the sheer variety of places I manged to get myself killed was really the only adventure I got to experience in my brave journey though Tyria. Dead in a marsh. Dead in a desert. Dead in a magical flying castle. Dead in a river. Dead on a mountain summit. Dead in river of molten lava, giving a dramatic thumbs up much like The Terminator. Dead in a pristine field surrounded by bunnies, piggies and magical rainbows that reflect the innocence of a child’s dream playfully in the sky. Dead along with my worthless, inept, AI controlled companions.
If you decide to go on a magical quest to save the world armed only with good intentions and a heart for adventure and these are the faces you see when you go to town to assemble a party, for your safety and sanity’s sake, just turn around and go home. Trust me.
Thankfully a friend of mine decided to help me play, what a kind soul. We formed the mighty guild of TIM, short for The Iron Monkeys. The good thing about having a guild is that instead of having no one to drag along and die with me I instead had a list of people who would never be around to be dragged alone and subsequently die. The best part was my friend would not log in for two weeks and wonder why I was ahead of him! ARGH. I did; however, have the sweet taste of bringing along a human players instead of an entire party of idiot henchmen, and things seemed to go a somehow… worse. You’d get some warrior named ‘Killer PwnerX’ running around pissing off every living monster on the planet and dragging them back to the party with requests of ‘healz plz’ as he ate a fireball to the face, then proceeding to blame everyone else for his death. Or you’d get the monk who decided to use smiting magic and not bother to tell anyone till the party starts dying. Or you’d get the person who needed a quest done that the rest of the party had, and then neglects to mention he’s also got about ten other quests active at the same time so that when you go out into the field you are greeted with a swirling torrent of pain and misery.
On the whole, as stupid and worthless as the henchmen, people in town I’d pick up at random seemed, somehow, more inept if that were possible. At least with the henchmen you can rely on their incompetence and work around it. With human players it was like spinning the ‘down syndrome roulette wheel of misfortune.’ After a grueling struggle with the game mechanics, boredom, repetition and general shittiness of the first campaign of this game, I sort of gave up. Left poor Serra Demer to sit and wait for the day when I’d decide to come back. Then we fast forward about a year and a half later, I’m on the phone with the same friend who I dragged (or did he drag me into buying Guild Wars? I can hardly remember this detail.) into the game about needing something to play with people during my downtime, because I’m so god damn productive with my free time. Then, for some stupid reason I suggested that we buy the new Guild Wars campaigns, no sooner did the words come out of my mouth did I start to have flashbacks, much like an old War Vet.
I pictured being marched into a prison shower with my wrists handcuffed to my ankles. Instead of big burly criminals with names like Bubba and Big Leroy the people in the shower are Tengu and various monsters that have molested my poor avatar upon death. They begin to slap my ass and taunt me, promising me a right proper buggering. They call me names like ‘Sweet Cheeks’ and ‘Sally,’ with every humiliating slap of my ass I see flash before my eyes a various death scene of my poor avatar. Slap. Dead on a hillside, ettins enjoying the fruits of my poor still-warm bodies’ loins. Slap. Dead in a lava-flow, imps gleefully prodding my corpse with sticks and farting on my charred carcass. Slap. Dead on a frozen hillside, a bird man (or perhaps a man bird) kicking up the ground around my fallen body like a rooster looking for feed in topsoil.
Yet for some stupid reason I decided to do it and come back to Guild Wars, much like an abused wife coming back to the drunken and unpredictable rage of her spouse. This time, there were improvements that made the game somewhat fun. I say somewhat, because, unless on ventrilo chatting with the guild mates or doing some sort of PvP thing I tend to find guild wars really kind of boring. Somehow I’ve managed to keep playing the thing for four years, on and off of course, but four years nonetheless. Though I still bear the scars of my first few months attending The Guild Wars School of Hard Knocks. All in all, I’d say it’s made me good at the game. More like, forced me to be good unless I want to eat dirt. Now I pretty much do Hard Mode, no sweat. That’s when Guild Wars decided to unleash upon me the most insidious of tricks up its sleeve… managing a guild. Human interaction.
Drooling hordes of monsters who’s only thoughts are the single minded destruction of me and my entire family is an acceptable situation, I mean that’s just what drooling hordes do. Sometimes they even throw in some raping and pillaging on the side, you know, for kicks. After all, they just want to add to my already impressive death count. Other people have all sorts of different motivations, ranging from the desire for companionship in the harsh digital world of Guild Wars, to wanting to show off their in game wealth via impressive armor and bragging which can get really tiresome, to simply wanting to erode my sanity to the breaking point by acting like irritating children.
Heros I can handle, I get to equip them and tell them to do what I like, the henchmen I’ve learned to flag around and pretty much just pray they don’t do something too stupid. Human players on the other hand, seem to be even more efficient at getting my ass killed, ensuring the maximum amount of frustration and headaches when doing even the most simple of tasks. Somehow fetching a basket of apples turns into a two-man showdown with the spider army of Kalimar. Thankfully, most of my guild members, at least the ones that don’t quit in a day without saying a word after overhearing one of our delightful conversations in the guild chat channel, seem to know what the fuck they are doing and lately it’s been smooth sailing… at least in the game play department. That’s not to say we have not run into a few people who seem to be better left off a voice chat server let alone an online game where they can taint other people with their borderline criminal idiocy.
TIM was first formed when the game first started. It had only two members, me and my friend. It stayed very small in the beginning, he mostly looked for people. I was content to have a cape and the future prospect of a guild hall when we had money. Mostly dealing with recruiting was a hassle, most people upon discovery that joining the guild would not afford them lavish equipment and all sorts of fancy bonuses since we were so small would just quit. The ones that stayed in the beginning were terribly frustrating, for example, we had two Australian guys who kept complaining we were never on to play with them and therefore quit the guild. Which was bullshit, at the time I was working nights so I was always up late and saw them on, they just refused to let me help them with anything. It went on like this for a while, till we got some permanent members, the previous group of incompetents having left when the guild leadership was absent for over a year. Of course permanent doesn’t always mean good. Some of the more memorable members we’ve had I shall discuss below:
Domestic Kitten was a role player, as in a person who would attempt to role play in a game that, as far as I have seen while playing, does not tend to encourage that. I was in the PvP area, screwing around with the practice dummies, when I noticed this avatar running around trying to join my group. After a few times of rejecting their invite, out of sheer annoyance, I accepted to ask what the hell they kept bothering me for. The person started to ‘meow’ at me and emote that they were a lost kitten and were looking for a home. Normally such faggotry would typically cause me to unleash a torrent of mockery and hate, but I decided to play along, to see how the rest of the guild would enjoy the amazing kitty role player. I had set a ticking time bomb, now all I had to do was sit back and wait for it to explode. Why would I do something like this you may ask? I wanted to see which officer would show initiative and kick the catgirl out of the guild first. I made the experiment even more entertaining by forbidding everyone from doing so. Surely enough, after one day of almost non-stop ‘meows’ being broadcast in the guild channel Not-Jake (discussed in further detail below), one of our more brilliant members at the time, decided to sexually harass the female catgirl role player. Of course harassment gave way to a beautiful cyber love affair where they apparently had cybersex a few times. Upon discovery of this fact… I laughed so hard I almost peed myself. Partially because, according to what my friend said, he met the kitten’s friends in town and during the conversation they sort of let it slip that this ‘she’ was in fact a ‘he.’ Not-Jake just cyber jerked it to the sexy cat-girl role play of a dude. Priceless. Of course eventually the meows got too annoying, even for me and sensing this my girlfriend gave this member the boot, but for a long time whenever Not-Jake got surly in voice chat I’d start meowing at him to shut him up.
Toondragon & The Tween-pocalypse
One of the primary things to fear online is teenagers, no force can be more mindless and annoying than an endless stream of text to the tune of ‘pwned’ and ‘ur gay lol nub’ aimed at you when you’re trying to concentrate or you just got killed. For some reason I ignored this danger and let a teeanger be an officer in the guild because he seemed okay and said he could get some people to join for us, all the sudden this kid’s ego inflated to levels I’ve never seen before. I logged off for a couple of days and then got a paniced phone call telling me to log on, when I get there Toondragon was arguing with everyone in the guild about how he’s an officer now and all the other officers better listen to him because he had recruited the most members and therefore deserved more respect. In guild chat there were tons of names I didn’t recognize and they all were parroting this point of view. The damned tweenage shit was staging a hostile takeover of my guild! He had already gone and made all his friends officers too, to the point where we had over 15 officers and 30 members, the count before was 4 and 10. They were all annoying little kids who kept talking liek dyz lawl, n liek they shuld be allowed to get 2 b second in command cuz they gotz meh so many members. After about fifteen minutes of watching my guild chat degenerate into a pre-teen ego wangst storm, I proceeded to kick every last new member out of the guild in an event now called ‘the culling.’ For weeks after that toondragon kept asking to be let back in, at first demanding, then pleading, then finally… after almost a month… giving up.
Not-Jake reminded me of this guy I knew in high school, a friend of mine and I called him ‘the American Ninja.’ Imagine Chuck Norris, without any martial arts skill, black hair, and a thin 70’s porn-mustache. Now imagine that guy telling you that he is actually a ninja, trained by master Shadow and who also is really the Author David Eddings under a pen name and who once wrote a story about a guy who escaped an evil king by walking down a secret tunnel that went on for three miles in pitch darkness, killing a gaurd (I guess they were guarding the darkness) every ten feet (an appropriate distance to make your guards stand in a pitch black tunnel in a line) without making a sound. Yeah, if you haven’t guessed he was a bit of a liar. He also got kicked out of his mom’s house for fucking a girl with down syndrome in his little sister’s room when she was present. Not-Jake was just as much of a liar, though perhaps, only marginally less stupid. He once told us, for example, that he was allowed to join the Marines early, and was a highly trained special forces operative. One time he claimed he had to go offline for a weekend, telling us on voice chat that he was to be sent to Afghanistan to snipe al-Qaida’s second in command from three miles away and then walk five miles back to base. This mission was canceled of course. Yeah, he’s the guy they call at random at the age of 19 to do super-secret government missions. If, in the billion to one chance that’s true, god help us all. There was also one night were he claimed that he had a crazy naked ex-girlfriend screaming on his lawn for him to fuck her. Somehow this escaped the notice of his wife, the microphone, or the rest of his family. One of the guild mates said that he thinks what Not-Jake did when he went on his government missions was actually sit on his front lawn in a bathtub, naked, clutching a toy rifle while rocking back and forth and chanting to himself ‘this is my rifle this is my gun…’ ad infinitum. He’s probably right.
Not-Grim is everyone’s favorite kind of person. While annoying teenagers are a stereotype, that usually is true. Not-Grim is not your typical annoying teenager. He’s actually an annoying teenager who thinks he’s knows everything. He tried to constantly steer the vent into conversations about life, god, science, philosophy, etc. The only problem was that his ideas were so bland and basic that you’ve probably heard them all a hundred times before in slightly different words. Platitudes. During one conversation he started going on a tangent about how war is bad and evil and should never be done. Causing Mike, the most calm and generally nice person in the guild to actually insult him, accusing him of having a ‘sheltered little life’ and basically telling him to shut up. This resulted in Not-Grim going on a tangent about the evils of war and blah fucking blah, as if anyone would disagree with that assessment or ever was in disagreement in general, but missing the point he continued on and on beating the same drum till I finally broke my bemused silence and told him to stop with his ‘platitudes.’ He wasn’t even mad when I said it but it shut him up. Then he looked the word up and got this definition:
A platitude is a trite, meaningless, biased or prosaic statement that is presented as if it were significant and original.
Not-Grim told one of the mates that he only got mad when he ‘looked the fucking word up’ which made me laugh. I manged to summarize every boring speech he’d ever had on the vent with his super amazing theories in one-word. ‘Platitudes’ is now a big in-joke in the guild. Not-Grim has not been heard on the vent since, at least not when I was present.
Finally, one of our newest officers came along, Not-Chris. Not-Chris is, quite honestly, the most irrational person I’ve ever had a conversation with in my life. He rage quit Guild Wars three times over bugs that didn’t exist based on his heros being equipped with the wrong skills. He claimed as a ‘philosophy student’ he cannot abide by game makers letting bugs slide and doing nothing to fix his problems, problems mind you, that only he experienced. How can support fix a bug that only one person on the fucking planet is supposedly experiencing? Don’t bother asking him that, the speech you’ll get in response will baffle you beyond words. He claimed to me and the Warden on vent one night that he was being punished by Fortuna (you know, the greek goddess) for fucking her sister in a past life. Riiiiiiiight. Then he went nuts on his blog, talking about how Guild Wars was basically a microcosm for the world’s troubles. People getting runs (so they don’t have to do certain parts of the game they may have done before on other characters) or farming (the only way to make money in the broken Guild Wars economy) are somehow a representation on the degeneration of society. Then about a month ago he was on vent, flipping out about bugs again, and then left, deleted all his blog posts and said that all the ‘idiots and undesirables have been purged’ managing to insult a few of the guild members who are actually nice (unlike me) who were on his friends list, leaving them to hope they were just one of the ‘other undesirables.’
I’m in ur society, destroyin it with mah farmin.
Therefore, at least how I see it, while there’s a certain satisfaction in playing solo, and human players may get you killed more (or less if you end up getting Mike to help you), but just for the sheer entertainment value of some of their unique ability to make no sense or act completely insane… it can make the experience worth it. That and after many years if abuse and death, Serra finally got some good digs.
I’m so proud… *sniff*
As of this writing, Serra Demer has died 2066 times.
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