24 May 2011

Generations of Gamers

I was standing around on the MUD talking to a clan member. He is an older player (in playing years on this game, not in real life age), so I was not surprised when he uttered words to the effect of  "90 percent of the new players today would not survive a week back in the day."  At first I shrugged off the observation as the usual nostalgia for a Valhalla that was crowded and somewhat simpler, but then I thought about what he said.  In some ways he is correct.

Before you all shout TRAITOR! at me; hear me out. I stumbled across the MUD on day when looking for something else with the name Valhalla in the site name. I was excited, I book marked it went on with what I needed to do and then forgot about it for 2 weeks. I was doing  my usual bookmark maintenance on my browser when I saw it again. So I fired up the old telnet window and went to check it out, muttering that I neither  had Procomm Plus or any connectivity software I could write helper programs in. I did not have even a rudimentary mud client. It took some configuring and about 3 days of trying to figure out how to move, speak and perform the basic commands. Look was easy, but the rest depended on the engine back in the day as did the help files this one was actually pretty friendly Help returned information of how to use help. So I settled back and started to read.

That is the first thing I HAVE noticed about many modern gamers, if it is not in a wiki or fed in small doses as they start, it is too hard or not user friendly in their eyes.  Guess they never played Zork.  So I read for a while off and on for 3 days.  I made sure to find the rules and read them.  Very few people are about if any but it is in wee hours of the morning my time or around lunch. Most people are in school or at work.

On the third day I log in starting to get the hang of it now  and get shouted at to change my name, by players and admin. Oh shit an admin, guess I better change my name.  I had used ZetaThompson when I made the character because I was used to door games that created an account based on your BBS login. This was a direct connect MUD of the old skool, like the ones I used to pass through BBSes to get to at Universities. If a Sysop told you to do something you did. If an ADMIN did you you did so IMMEDIATELY. These days people argue. They complain if a name like ZetaThompson was not wanted why is it not blocked?  In those days if you argued with an ADMIN you got deleted and ip blocked. Sometimes you got blacklisted among the MUDs and other door games - especially if you were suspected of being a rabble rouser.

Old MUDs were pretty simplistic and most were auto PK at level three. That meant at level 3 or 5 you were killable by any other player. It did not matter if you were level 3 and they were 50 or 300 or 3000, they could and in many cases would kill you. They would loot your corpse and they laugh at you if whined. So when a player shouted make it something easy to type, I did not comply. I made it easy for ME to type.  I logged back in with a new character and then someone pointed out the sign that I should have read. It started the newbie training. I started it and completed it, dying once, maybe twice, during it not bad given some tutorials. Then I went off to find my guild and train. I messed up my stats big time. Everyone does. Apparently I exceeded expectations on that one. I have seen present day players delete and start over if they are even 2 points off on a stat because they must be PERFECT in order to compete.  And to make matters worse if you ask 3 people what the perfect tank is you will get 4 different answers. The concept of playing a character that is less than perfect and making it work is not acceptable to many modern players. They want the answers now so that they can dominate the game and win it, except there is no win on a MUD really. This seems to confuse many and they leave feeling cheated. There is no end to the MUD, it is a world in which many stories take place.

I of course picked the worst path for a newbie, but I stuck with it. Eventually I made a second character.  I found out a lot listening to players and not talking much. I played a role with my characters, one acted a bit flirty and dumb (she is the assassin), the other was her brother who was very polite, quiet and ready to do anything to protect his sister, even though he was ready to strangle her more than once. When he was turned female by another player I played along. A small group of us (3 maybe 6 players on a good day) ran around exploring working on quests and getting killed a lot. We had fun.  After about 2 months I hit level 50, adult on this mud, but by no means finished.  I averaged a level a day that I played, I read the rooms, the quests, looked at things in the donations hall. I tried different commands sometimes to my death, sometimes with to no avail sometimes with expected or unexpected results. The first quest I accepted took me almost 2 weeks real time to complete. Probably about 10 hours playing time. I could not find that garlic.  Finally I asked. Now players are upset that we do not have a WIKI with all the answers on it.

Finally, I started running with the big boys. The screen scrolled so fast as we ran the exp grind it made me dizzy.  They told me do not bother to hit on telenet. I asked about clients after my stomach stopped churning, got 4 or 5 different recommendations - each had their favorite - and picked one. I bought and installed it, no more than 2 weeks later and then donated to the MUD. It was not much, but I appreciated the coders and owners letting me into their home and all the work they had done and hey 15 - 35 on a game is cheap. So I became a long term player of the game.  Now many new players come in and donate immediately figuring the more they pay, the more they will get in considerations from the admins, owners and of course get a better character out of it. The thing is, one of the best PKers on the MUD was so for 3 years with no Personal Items and having not spent a cent on their character.  Skill matters most, even today. equipment makes the skill more effective, but if you do not know when to heal, when to cast, when to trip, you will lose against an equal or even lesser player.

This is how ALL games and gamers should be I feel.  They should be fun. But alas many people who play games are not gamers, they are merely people looking for a shortcut to winning. They want the titles and the rewards and the equipment. If they are not good enough to get them or miss out because they are limited they will do anything to get them from another. I have heard of players asking ADMIN for quest answers of quests no one has solved yet so they can get the reward and accolades of being first. I have heard of players wanting to pay for whatever is needed to win a contest because they did not have time to do it but wanted the reward.  And of course there are the ones that find ways to cheat and get more than they should have.

All of us know these people, we have seen them on Guild Wars, WoW, Eve even Neopets.  They hack or buy their characters. Someone else does the work and they reap the reward. Then when they are deleted by the admins or the GMs, they whine and lie or worse act as if what they did was fine because it is just a game so it is okay to cheat, break rules and then get angry at the person who caught and finally punished them.  These people are not gamers and my clannie was correct back in the day they would not have lasted very long. They would have been PKed off the game by the real gamers. The lesson is real gamers know they sometimes do not win. The challenge is to do better each time. That is why the DIKU coders are now experts in their fields. It is just a shame that the legacy they left for future generations is now populated with those who do not understand that the game is reflection of life. Sometimes it is enough to just survive and improve.

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