“Welcome to the fold, commander, we’ve been waiting for someone like you.”
“Haha, very funny. You probably say that to all the new recruits, huh?”
“Well, you’re not exactly wrong, but…”
Every Monday I lead the new recruits into the grand world that is Guild Battles 2. It is a longstanding MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Play Game) that is arguably in its last stages of life. I was first introduced into the game very late in its production lifecycle, and am probably one of the last “new” players the game is ever going to get. The only reason I can tell is that the developers of the game are getting slower and slower with updates. The fresh and flavorful seasonal events of old becaome routine and predictable when they add little to no addedums all subsequent years. The problems that plague customer support are still not automated away, despite being a easy problem to fix ( you need to go to customer support to change your email! this is 2020!). But despite all these tiny hiccups, I see a vision in this game not present in the vast many of the competitors on the market. This game has moral, community, and soul.
As it archetypal of most MMORPGs, you get a chance to select your gender, but the kicker is always how deep the game goes into letting you choose a race. Most races are pretty unimaginative (here are white humans, brown humans, humans with long ears, short humans!), some cater to the idea that alt-human races MUST be ugly (looking at your ogres), but Guild Battles 2 is different. They have a myriad of races that all exist in the global lore of the world, but you can only select 5 which are VERY distinct from one another and most MMORPGs in general. They have the humans… which are humans, plant people who are in tune with the earth, giants who are in tune with nature spirits, shorties which are in tune with technology, and cat people who are like the FOIL to humans suprisingly enough. Each race has its own lore and world, and even sub-factios that further intricate and complicate the races. But this is all baseline stuff which I’d argue is the minimal viable product for MMORPGS: where I think Guild Battles 2 stands out is how it insert non-normal things into a non-normal world. Two of the biggest things that is current almost unicorn in nature is represenation of disabled individuals and a promotion for same-sex relationships.
Most people (myself included) don’t really know how to treat our brothers and sisters who need a little more help to do what we consider normal. They are all treated differently by everyone, and they also react different as well. Some are constantly reminder of how they aren’t normal by special treatment or discrimination, and what Guild Battles 2 pushes out is the ideal that you can be treated as normal and equal and that being treated as normal, should be normalized. Oscracization, whether intentional or accidental, is hugely detrimental to the human psyche as a naturally social species, and what I love about this game is that even if you are different or labeled as such, you can still be yourself to your highest caliber, be “useful” if not moreso than “normal people”, and have a place to be accepted by others just like you.
The other aspect I enjoy is the normalization and forefront placement of same-sex relationships in the game. Though man-woman relationships are the society norm since the epoch of time, a new breed of identity is brewing in the latest millenia. People are identitfying themselves in ways that are not normal to our traditional standards, and as they don’t fit in, they stand out and are intentionally or otherwise treated differently. The trend I’m starting to see and am really about in the inclusion of alterntive romantic partnerships, which I personally thought was always a strange realm to trap over because it inherently has nothing to do with you outside of your own personal romantic relationships. If someone else is doing something you don’t like or don’t feel comfortable with, but it doesn’t impact your life in anyway whatsoever or hurt anybody else in the process… why have a problem with it at all? I’d honestly argue that it’s a waste of energy to even spend negative thoughts on this… though the more religious sects of my family would argue differently. Anyways, rough musing aside, what I like about Guild Battles 2 is that is has not one, not two, but several hundreds of important characters who are proud and honest about their alternative lifestyle choices, and the crazy part is… nobody cares. They are treated just as normal as people who partcipate in male-female relationshps, and that’s the way it should be honestly. If humans are having so much infighting over our own race engaging in relationships that are hetero, I can’t even fathom to imagine the uproar when technology accelerates far enough when AI and human relationships come into question, and even alien races beyond our own should space travel become feasible enough.
The last bit I love about the game is the lack of pressure to play continuously. Most games, MMORPG or otherwise, have these embedded predatory practices that either punishes you for not playing continuously by means of being left behind when the content updates, or forcing you to pay money to advance in the game for better items and equipment. Both leave a sour aftertaste in my mind, but Guild Battles 2 does neither of those things. They do have a cash shop, but it is EXCLUSIVELY for cosmietc items so you look prettier, nothing that impacts gameplay at all. I applaud them for it and regulary spend money to support the developers because it is a hard choice to NOT take the cash or predatory player route when it’s sooooo easy and profitable to do so. When I finally get around to making my own VR company, I hope this is one of the pillars of our morals.
Oh and one last thing (I keep saying one last thing haha), the environment design is BREATHTAKING. Even at the lowest graphics, all the environments are so beautiful and fun to traverse around, and I have no shame in admitting I have made several random screenshots around the world of Guild Battles 2 as my rotating desktop wallpapers. It is memories of exploration and awe, fascination, and appreciation, something I wish to embedded in my future works as well.
Of course, I won’t tell the new recruits this. I’ll just sprinkle in my gushing adornment here and there, but I want them to find out if these is something cool in this game that I have yet to discover myself.
There is a longstanding series of games known as “Tales”. Every couple of years the developers of this game release a new title (Tales of [INSERT-NAME-HERE]), and the template of the game series is also identical in every itetation. You start off with a pretty normal character, and through events completely out of their control, are thrust into a fate to save the world with their slowly increasing ensemble of allies. The themes of “the power of friendship” are definitely a big selling point for me, but what makes me a fan for life is WHY this theme is important. It’s a little know fact that you are the average of your 5 friends, so if you friends are amazing and keep pushing themselves and each other to ascend to greater heights, the average consequences of their actions with resonate with you as well. The contrary is also painfully obvious, but the driving home point I enjoy is that you CAN’T save the world on your own. The world is big, and we by ourselves are extremely tiny. What we need is a common cause, a grand goal that we can put all our hearts and minds into, and through collision of personalties, what this really means to each character in a Tales game makes them so human and relatable. There are several instances of the games where your party members go missing, get kidnapped, betray you, or even stop adventuring with you just because of a ideological impasse, and when you fight tough enemies without them, you weaknesses become painfully obvious. This lesson is still something I’m trying to cement inside of myself, as I have traditionally trusted no one to do anything I can do myself, and it’s limited the today efficiency of what my dreams can be realized into. To trust people in a hard and weight delicacy, but once the trust is forged and hardened, you have something for life that can never be replaced.
The last thing this game series does that almost NO games do today is local co-operative gameplay. Couch co-op is something long embedded of the past where consisent online gameplay was unstable as the infrastrucre for it wasn’t there yet, and now it’s everywhere. Why go to your friends house to play games when you just sit alone at home in your own dark home? As of today, Tales fights this notion by painstakingly adding local co-op player controls that ONLY works offline (now you can do remote play, but that’s a bit of a hack haha), and I’ve had the opportunity to actually playing locally with people. It was an amazing experience, and really cemented the feeling of camaderie through vicariously playing of the characters in the game. I love it, and want to share this love and themes with anyone who hasn’t had a chance to do this yet.
The first of the weekly events I have been hosting in my virtual town. It is based on the my love for old-timey anime based on samurais, hence the word Wanderer. For those who don’t regularly watch anime, the style of animation and the theme present between old and new anime is stark and contrasting, and I really like the common tropes and themes of old almost forgotten in current-day anime. It’s almost like a change of tradition into the modern age, and what I’m starting to discover that a lot of the self-truths worth discovering have already been unconcovered by our ancestors and creatives of old.
A look into the future with virtual reality being at the forefront. After a global pandemic forced social isolation in the name of minimmalzing the disease’s spread rate, the damage was catastrophic to human psyche. We are social creatures, and being forced to stay away from others without the means of replacing our traditional communication methods was just too much. But in the darkness of sad times, new light emerges. Virtual reality has been in development well since 1980 (it’s 2020 now), but the last couple of years have been monumental to VR growth and adoption. A new headset named the Retina Journey finally did what no onther VR technonology could do: reduce the adoption rate to a mere couple of hundred dolalrs with a wirless headsets and an on-board graphics card. The cheapest solution for VR adopters before was having a half-decent PC around $500 - $1000 dollars with a $1000 headset and lots of cameras placed around a wide area (a surprinsngly expensive commodity in small urban houses). This headset just blew open the gates keeping out so many people, and now the amount of content being created is unbelievable. The field is still very much in its infancy though, but what I’m loving is that depsite the limitations of senses (so far we only have sight, sound, and maybe touch though vibration hapics), the amount of experiences out there is AMAZING. And virtual reality does one of my favorite things we can’t do normally in the physical world: the chance to explore alternative and even never-before-though-out lives without having to compromise our current ones. I wonder what kind of people we will mold ourselves into the more experience we have under our belt? My theory is that the more educated and well-rounded you are, the more pleasant and happy of a person you will become. Research pending, of course.
A callback to the days of old with Call of Dooty with da boiz. Nowadays the boys (and girls now, the scene is lot more accepting and less toxic than the verbal warfare fields of my middle school years) are busy with real life committments, but the pleasure of running and gunning with you squad is a high that never seems to fade. Nowawadays the competitive nature is gone as it takes a LOT of time and practice to be half-decent, so now it’s just a social outing like many other activies, and it’s great.
I was tossing up between Surpise and Streamer Saturdays, where my virtual town hosts gameshow-like streams where any number of participants can join in and have fun. It gives a chance for more of the soft-spoken community members to show what they are about, and gives the grandstanding and natural performers a platform to wow and showcase their personality. This one’s a bit of a tossup as each week different games take the spotlight as the Suprise, but I hope to create some unique and unforgettable moments in this stream.
A callback to my dreams of old, the scene where low ambient lights and the nonstop beeping and booping of giant arcade machines filled an open space, side by side, and packed with every number of videogames you can dream of. These dreams are almost long gone in the memories of yesterday, as home consoles have now taken the place of these hallways and grandeurs of old. But through this continuous intrigation of what can be done at home, we lost a lot of the social spontangeough and organic relatioship building that can only be done in person (see why I’m pushing VR so hard?). And one of the most hype-events was obviously the arcade fighters. I grew up too late to enjoy the bliss of running after school to the nearest arcade to spend my hard-earned allowance, quaerter afte quarter in matches to train my mind and muscle memory (also I’m El Salvadoran, my allowance was being allowed to live in my house! xd). Some people who are stronger willed than I have decided, no, that’s unacceptable, and have taken matter into their own hands. Through a LOT of hard work, patience, personaity, and luck, they managed to grow small fightging game scenes starting in someone’s basement all the way to hotel venues and even casinos in Las Vegas! That dream is a bit far for me as well, but like all things, starting small and continuing to do the work does wonders for a future you have yet to meet. Maybe one day I will be crowned the King of VR Figthers like I always dreamed haha.
I love the idea of all these events happening every week, a small virtual town existing in the same between here and nowhere, and building a commmunity of friends and creatives out of it. The onus on this dream becoming a reality is me, and I don’t plan to stop while the adrenaline is still running high.
Today’s word count: 2,575 words
Total word count until today: 46,160 words
@mariasokolowska @michellebasey @sabweld @philkastelic @nicolaworley @ParisaR @sydneydobersteinlarock @wildcat @dragon @homeroom11