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Visiting Valdyrhamr - John C. Kirk — LiveJournal

Jun. 20th, 2013

04:08 am - Visiting Valdyrhamr

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Date:June 20th, 2013 09:42 am (UTC)
I've never LARPed – all my remotely relevant experience comes from one MUD, a bit of tabletop RPG, and quite a lot of one online multiplayer cooperative shooter - so take the following with salt.

I don't think what specifically you do is as important as doing something that benefits the team, that makes the most of the abilities you happen to have, and crucially that you enjoy. Damage output is usually the most prestigious activity, and in many systems it's what gets you the most points/pie/etc., but I really don't think it's the most important. (Debate on the utility of damage-per-second or DPS continues to rage, however. I just think all the people on the other side of the debate are wrong. I may however be biased. :P)

I don't know if I'm any good at DPS, because I find it so dull that I've never stuck around long enough to find out. What I enjoy is either being useful in the background (so generally healer-type roles) or going off to deal with specific problems on the periphery while the rest of the team deal with the main force (so striker-type roles), and I reckon I've become vaguely good at these things, so I've continued to do them. Neither results in lots of kills or lots of points, but think they're important nevertheless. My teammates who are handling the DPS cannot do any DPS if they are dead; they also suffer in their ability to do DPS if they're being harassed by annoying enemy types that only make up a small fraction of the enemy force but are very hard to kill via conventional means and really get in your way. I may not be getting the glamorous roles, but I do take a lot of pride in what I do because I try hard to do it well and I genuinely think it's important.

Then there's the question of heroic rescues or not. Despite specialising in healer roles a lot of the time, I actually frequently decide not to help someone. Helping others always puts me at risk – if something was nasty enough to take my teammate down, they're probably nasty enough to take me down, and they're probably still in the same area – so while I'm usually happy to take risks, sometimes the risk is too high and it's simply not sensible anymore.

If it's fairly likely I'll die while trying to rescue someone else, then the team will be down two members instead of one, and that is definitely worse than if I'd just abandoned the dying person to their fate. It's cold, but I've been on the other side of a failed heroic rescue (i.e. I'm the last person standing because one teammate died and then the others all took stupid risks trying to heroically save them and now I've got to deal with everything on my own, thanks guys) enough times that I no longer feel guilt over abandoning people when necessary.

Also, if my team is trying to complete an objective or deal with a pressing problem, and one of the members gets into trouble far away from the rest of the team, if I leave the main group to rescue the lone wanderer, even if I'm ultimately successful, I've still deprived the main group of the help I could have given them in the time it's taken me to help the stray. Sometimes the help the stray could provide on their safe return justifies the risk, but sometimes the objective is time-critical or the pressing problem could really do with an extra pair of hands, and I can't justify helping one person if that'll significantly hurt the team overall. Again, I've been on the other side of this situation enough times that I don't feel guilt over this anymore either.

Similarly, I will sometimes end up far from the team (particularly when I'm taking care of peripheral problems – that pretty much requires you to go off and do your own thing) and I fully understand that I'm taking my life in my own hands at that point. If I get into trouble, I will of course appreciate a revive but I never expect it, and in some situations I will tell my teammates to leave me to it because what they're doing is too critical for any of them to abandon it just to help me.
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Date:June 20th, 2013 09:43 am (UTC)
(Ooh, look at me hitting the character limit. Maybe I am some kind of gamer after all... I certainly can opine like one it seems.)

Then there's the fun aspect. Games are things you play because they let you have fun. It's easy to lose sight of that when you're up to your eyeballs in skills trees, equipment manifests, combat tactics, and team strategies. Sometimes I'll break my own rules and take out a class that I'm terrible at playing just because I want to experiment. Sometimes I'll take a class that I am good at playing and play it "wrong" just because it amuses me. I do try and limit how much this inconveniences the people I'm playing with, but I do it anyway because it's fun, and while I enjoy doing things well and doing the best I can for my team (and I hope my team appreciates it), I also enjoy doing silly things and it would be a shame never to do that at all because I'm overly concerned with Being My Best All the Time.
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Date:June 21st, 2013 01:53 am (UTC)
Thanks for your comments. Some of it sounds a bit like Spock's logic: "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." I think that makes sense if you treat everyone else equally (and interchangeably?) but it gets more complicated if you value some people more than others.

I haven't played any of the online shooters; the nearest I've come to that was playing Starcraft with my old flatmates across a LAN. However, I suspect that the main difference is the roleplay aspect. If I've been off to the tavern with someone (IC) where they bought me a drink and we sang together, it's going to bother me a bit more if they disappear, whereas I might be less concerned about Sir Fred of Bloggs.

I've discussed this with a few of my faction, and the general concensus seems to be that I should treat this as a good opportunity for character development. I.e. Cedric (my character) should have all the same concerns that I wrote about in the post, and the way he deals with them will help him to diverge from me. That may involve taking stupid risks out of a sense of guilt, or making an effort not to get too attached to people who are likely to die.

I agree with you that games are supposed to be fun, but in a strange way this is fun. Thinking back to the previous event, I took part in a scouting mission with people from a few factions. One of the scouts was discovered, so the rest of us legged it (following our plan), but then we had to go to his faction's campsite and tell them what happened; that was partly to share the information we'd learned, and partly to tell them that their scout was missing. That debrief felt genuinely uncomfortable, because I basically had to tell the general that I'd been hiding in a bush when their scout was captured and I'd done nothing to help him. Also, all the scouts from 2 factions made it out safely, and it was just the scout from this particular faction who went missing, which looked a bit incriminating. I wouldn't exactly say that I enjoyed that at the time, but it was a memorable experience. Maybe it's similar to my cold water swimming: I feel a lot better when it's over.

Mind you, the nice thing about monstering is that I can do things in a different way. At this event, one of the monster slots involved playing a half-rat thing, and we were basically the world's most useless monsters. We were "1 point squishies", and our mission brief was that we'd be more interested in finding something to eat than attacking the enemy (player characters). When they turned up in the field to fight us, we were all lying on the ground because we'd dozed off in the sun for a nap. As you'd expect, we didn't survive for long, but I enjoyed that role while it lasted.

Edited at 2013-06-21 01:54 am (UTC)
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