Where Potholes Come From…

You might as well just hand me my lightsaber right now.

Oh, I know, there’s supposed to be all these challenges, and you’ve got to go on these epic quests, blah blah blah. But let’s be honest here: did Luke Skywalker go on any epic quests? No, I mean besides destroying the Death Star. And Dagobah Swamp to be trained by Yoda. Fine, fine and Cloud City. No, besides all that. Right. See? He didn’t do anything of note if you take away the whole “defeating the Empire almost single-handedly” matter. And yet we all have him as our idealized version of the Jedi.

I’m here to tell you that real Jedis make themselves known in much bigger manners. Let me just give you an example: you know that tired Jedi Mind Trick? Yeah, sure, maybe some of the big guys might impress you with their ability to wave their hands and make a Stormtrooper or two ignore a droid. Big whoop. I am tearing up entire city streets, and have yet to be bothered by so much as a single harsh word from any of the Imperial knuckleheads walking around.

That’s right, call me Peter Gabriel, ’cause I’m Diggin in the Dirt, baby. I’ve been mining so much you might as well put me in a house with six other short chubby guys and drop a pale babe in our laps. And yet the entire time that I’m blasting holes in the streets to gather my precious ore, not a single person has taken notice of me. Wanton obliviousness or massive mind-control powers, you decide!

Well, no, actually, I’ll decide for you: it’s my phenomenal mind-control powers. Duh.

Look, I can’t claim to know what Stormtroopers are like in real life. The closest I can come is Mrs. Keene. Mrs. Keene was my study hall teacher in high school who once yelled at me for “looking at the clock funny.” Apparently the lurid gaze I was giving the clock was suggesting demeaning acts that I’d like to perform on it. When I suggested that a clock getting offended at how it was looked at made as much sense as someone “teaching” study hall, I was sent to the office.

I realize that this is a pretty poor comparison – Mrs. Keene never so much as held a blaster, let alone subjugated lesser species. I can’t imagine her fitting into that armor, anyway. But her frequent banishment of me to the office for such infractions as coughing too loudly, “fidgeting” in my seat, and deliberately breaking my pencil make me think that there’s a future for Mrs. Keene in the Imperial Forces. And let me tell you right now: if Stormtrooper Keene came across me, waist-deep in a mining hole in the middle of the street, she’d be sending me to the principle’s office with a few inspired applications of her blaster to my face. So it’s my estimation that she would be considered a ‘soft’ Stormtrooper. Yet there I am, completely invisible to the other, better-trained Stormtroopers.

Digging potholes on Broadway.

This probably explains why land speeders are so popular. Would you want to drive a vehicle with wheels knowing that some idiot like me is out there digging holes in the streets? I think all the races in the Star Wars galaxy pretty much skipped over the invention of the wheel and went right to the hovering. Bonk was working feverishly on his new round invention, when he fell into a pit that Grog was digging in order to bring up more of that shiny yellow metal. Which cleared the way for Poindexter, that annoying caveman that insisted upon walking upright, to get all the girls with his rock that hovered in the air.

I do wonder, though, when I notice I’m the only one that’s sitting in the middle of the street with my survey tool going full-bore. Phil keeps trying to tell me that the good deposits are outside of town, but you know what else is outside of town? Corellian Butterfly Warriors. That’s right: butterfly warriors. Remember those idiots that run around with the butterfly nets and jars of ether? Nature has finally had enough of them and given us the Corellian Butterfly Warriors. Not only will they kill you, but after they’re done, they pin your body onto a wall display.

So yeah, I probably won’t be heading out of town any time soon. I like being in town. The odds of getting killed by a butterfly are pretty low, and that’s soothing. Granted, digging giant holes in the middle of the street poses it’s own kind of danger, though…

I don’t really know how Jedi powers are going to begin showing up, but I’ve got a good guess that I’m exhibiting some of them already. You guys should probably start being nice to me now, because once I get my lightsaber, being my friend is going to be coming at a premium. I’m planning on graduating from pothole maker to being the greatest smuggler in the galaxy with my powers.

Let’s face it: if I can make everyone ignore gaping chasms in front of them as they’re driving down the road, hiding a cargo bay full of illegal weapons is probably cake.

17 Sep 2003

Helping Hands

I have such mixed emotions about people offering to help me.

Obviously, part of me loves it. But I have very real concerns that some people get involved in this thinking that it will be funny and giggles and hee-hee, lookit Pessum run! And then after about my fifth time of getting them wiped out, the laughter has suddenly died out and they remember an important appointment they had and have to leave, never to talk to me again.

It’s not that I’m stupid. Foolish, unlearned, a bit gullible – certainly. But I’m not completely stupid, despite what Death tells you.

Death says, “Oooooh, yer SUCH a liar!”
You say, “Quiet, slut!”

Honestly, though – I try very hard when I’m with a group. The biggest problem is that a lot of times people offer to take me hunting someplace I have no right to be. And then while we’re there, they assume that I know everything of that area that they know, since they’ve been hunting there for months and know every little nook, cranny and particular quirk of the critters there.

For example: some folks offered to take me into Avalon City. I’ve hunted there before, I feel somewhat confident I can stay out of trouble. I know that when Dragorians are walking by, you don’t hit them. Also, when they’re standing in an area, you don’t go near it unless you want them to come over and say hi. So I figure I’m in good shape, right?

Of course wrong.

What I had no idea of is that there are parts of AC that just by backing up against a wall, you trigger swarms and swarms of monsters to come running and begin poking you with pointy sticks. Which they did, killing everyone that was there to help. The same people that couldn’t figure out what they had done to bring that huge mob down on them. And neither could I – I’d never been there before, I had no idea of that ‘hotspot.’ But after about our fourth time of getting wiped out, someone noticed where I was standing, and suddenly I was the idiot. I guess I can understand their anger – but really, don’t send me frolicking out amongst the tulips and after the explosion remember to tell me that I’m standing in a minefield.

Helping someone out is such a kind act. Really. But it’s also a bit of craziness. You’re agreeing to forego your own fun in order to babysit someone – someone that might very well get you killed – for no other reward than a “Thank You.” It’s one heck of a nice thing to do, don’t get me wrong – I’ve sat at several n00b areas with Pessum and dished out lots of buffs in a mad effort to work of some bad karma myself. Yet that doesn’t come close to the amount of craziness it takes for a person to say, “Yes, I realize that this person is famous for getting everyone in their party killed. But you know what? I bet I can keep us alive!”

This sounds like I’m complaining about people helping me, and I certainly don’t mean for it to sound that way. I want everyone to know that if you offer to take me hunting, I’m very, very grateful. But I’m also hesitant for a lot of reasons. Do I know how to behave/hunt/survive wherever you want to take me? No, do I really know how to survive, and not just think I know how to survive? Do you know everything that you’re going to have to warn me about? I suppose this doesn’t just go for me – anyone wanting to help someone level should be aware of these questions, so consider it a public service announcement. I love it when people invite me along. I just don’t want to end up making everyone in the game hate me.

People that don’t know about hunting areas aren’t necessarily stupid – we just don’t know about that area because we’ve never gotten to hunt there. As another example: a very, very kind group of Mids on another server once asked me along with them on a dragon raid. They said they’d have an empty slot, and I could roll up a newb and come along. I wasn’t going to get anything out of it – I just wanted to see the dragon first-hand and maybe get some cool screenshots. So I tagged along with their very large hunting party, and they managed to keep me alive all the way out there. And once we got out there, I was so impressed, I decided I had to get some cool pictures of that big dragon to show everyone.

Only nobody bothered to tell me that a dragon’s aggro range is roughly five hundred zones wide. I briefly had time to think, “Oh, look, it’s turning towards me! This is going to be a GREAT picture!” before Puff came over and ate my face. And the rest of my party. And then some of the other groups tried to help, and…well, take a wild guess at what happened.

Needless to say, I haven’t been back to see the dragon since.

15 Sep 2003


So I don’t know if you’ve heard about it, but some of us have made a tiny guild on Palomides. As Hibernians. Hibbies are a realm that I’ve never played extensively – well, hell, I haven’t even played Albions extensively. They’re just the realm I have the most experience with.

I had decided upon a Valewalker, as I think I mentioned before. Once I overcame my cowardliness and managed to start mixing it up mano a mano (as they say in the streets), I found that I was doing pretty well. Valewalkers seem (to me) to be a very good class. I can land a number of nukes and debuffs (just to clarify: I don’t have REAL nukes/debuffs – just a lifetap and snare; but to me, that’s good enough) on critters before they come within striking distance, and then once they close, I can melee decently enough to finish the job. In the whole group, we’ve got a pretty good mix. Some mages, couple more melee’ers, you know, the usual.

Except for Mistake.

For whatever reason, Mistake is playing a Firbolg Hero. For those of you that don’t know, a Firbolg is a mix of giant and human – very large, very strong. Not as solid as a Troll perhaps, but almost as tall. They stand head and shoulders over every other race in Hibernia. And head, shoulders, arms, stomach, groin and knees above Lurikeens.

They’re big, is what I’m trying to say. Huge. Standing next to one of them while you’re fighting, you can pretty much count on whatever you’re fighting to be more aiming for the Firbolg. Partly because they’re larger than everything else and make a nice, easy target; and partly because they’re strong enough that if you’re fighting something purely melee, the Firbolg’s usually going to do more damage because of their greater strength. Did I also mention their huge, easy-to-hit size? Well, let me just mention it again. Them = BIG.

So imagine my surprise when the goblin we’re fighting takes a mighty swing at Mistake…only to see Mistake flip into the air.

Flip. Into the air. A giant.

I’m not sure of the history of their race, here – maybe the ancient race that bred with humans to make Firbolgs were giant acrobats or something. I mean, hey, who’s to say that some interstellar race of touring giant acrobats didn’t stop by our planet and, uh, “seed” the natives? That’s as good a guess as any, I suppose. In truth, there’s no telling how the Firbolgs came up with their ninja-esque abilities. I’ve got my theories, of course…

I can’t say that I’m an expert on giant – or half-giant – behaviors. But in my readings of Jack the Giant-Killer, I’m pretty sure I never heard about him preparing to stab the giant in the chest and the giant flipping into the air to dodge him.

You are welcome to object. Maybe you’re familiarity with 8-foot tall ninjas is greater than mine own. That wouldn’t surprise me. I mean, silly me, I’ve got this idea of dodging something as a giant being pretty hard in the first place. What with you being giant-sized and everything. What’s the point of being big and tough if you’re going to get out of the way of everything that tries to hit you? Old Ironsides didn’t get her nickname from dodging those cannonballs!

Okay, I understand – you don’t want to get hit. Fine. But where in your giant brain did the idea come to flip out of the way? What Xena-induced madness is this? Did the idea ever occur to you to, oh, I don’t know – step aside? It’s not that bad when you’re fighting something smaller than you. But try that with a Fomorian sometime and they’ll treat you like a giant-sized handball and bounce you off the wall a few times.

Granted, they’ll just step on me. But at least being squished is dignified.

And Now, Mistake Presents a Rebuttal…

There seems to be an issue with my l337 ninja skills. Now I know that on the surface a half-giant flipping about seems to be not just implausible, but also very unlikely to avoid the attack due to the massive size. But think back to how you felt when you saw this improbable act. Your mind skipped a beat as it tried to reconcile physics with what your eyes saw, yes?

Now I’ll go as far to assume that the majority of you have at least completed a high school level physics class. But think about the poor, uneducated creatures of Hibernia. This act of flipping literally short circuits their mind. That is why the dodge is successful.

Now, in order to be able to perform this gravity-defying, mind-fusing, ninja flip I spent many years under the tutelage of one Chun Lee (of Kwip’s ninja article fame, not the streetfighter). While those adventures were not nearly as amusing, I did learn many important truths.

  1. If you really believe you are invisible, you are. Unless Kwip is there.
  2. The laws of nature only apply to chumps.

Alright, two is far from many. But given Chun Lee’s track record, learning anything from him amounts to a fountain of knowledge in my book.

As for how realistic it may be, Kwip is a bundle of sticks. That’s right, sticks. I feel that as a half-giant my flipping about is almost infinitely more plausible than Kwip walking about, let alone casting spells and hitting things with his giant farming implement.

By the way, you will not squish. You will snap and crackle.


12 Sep 2003

We Got Ourselves a Convoy, Ain’t It a Beautiful…BOOM!

Unless you’re old enough to remember the hilarity of Smokey and the Bandit, the idea of being an interstellar trucker doesn’t sound very interesting. Let’s face it: Snowman might’ve been a funny guy, but it was Bandit that got the chicks.

Think about it: all you’re doing, when it boils down to it, is moving a cargo bay full of materials from Point A to Point B. That’s it. Cut through everything, and that is basically what you’re doing. You’re a intergalactic conveyer belt.

Of course, if you look at it that way, you’re ignoring the biggest reason to be a trucker: MONEY. And we’re not just talking about a small profit here, either. My very first trip hauling – and only using a 48-slot fast transport ship – netted me about FIVE TIMES the amount of credits I would’ve made on a combat or scouting mission. I’ve often wondered what appeal trucking could have to Phil. Well, now I know. It should’ve been obvious, what with him being a Republican and all…;)

Trucking isn’t just a simple matter of picking materials, a destination and scooting off. You really have to give some thought to not only what you’re going to carry, but where you’re going to carry it through. For example, carrying 5 million Kg of cargo through flux-heavy space makes things REALLY interesting…for the five minutes before you’re shot out of the sky, that is.

Just like my mass makes my chair creak ominously, mass on your cargo hauler makes a HUGE difference in how it handles. Oh, sure that cargo tow might make for a great fighting vehicle when it’s empty and armed for bear – but throw a few hundred units of Palladium in that sucker and you’re flying a bathtub. A very big, very slow bathtub that maneuvers about as gracefully as me in roller skates. And of course the flux are all sneaky bastiches – they let you jump into a sector, sit for a second to plot your course to the next Jumpgate, begin accelerating veeeeeeerrrrrrrrryyyyyyy slowly… and THEN they show up, guns blazing.

Oh, sure, you’re accelerating slowly – but you’re already too far to turn around and head towards the safety of the gate you just left – by the time you’d decelerate, get turned around, and accelerate back the way you came, a flux would be coming through your wreckage for the crunchy bits.

And then there’s docking. Docking with a heavy load is like beating yourself in the face with a ball-peen hammer. And then stuffing a rabid badger down your pants. And THEN driving on the New Jersey Turnpike. Well, okay, maybe it’s not THAT bad. Obviously, there are a lot of pilots that have very little trouble with this. I have a special name for them: “Rat Bastiches!”

Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if Flashfires, the MODx that you use to provide you with a few seconds of super fuel-injection speed boost, were re-useable like they used to be. However, now they burn out with each use. That means if you’re stuck using them to get up to escape velocity from the flux, you’re going to have to be traveling between stations that are equipped with enough Flashfires in their markets to allow you to reload each time.

Soooo…this sounds like a lot of pain, doesn’t it? Why would anyone go through all that hassle? The MONEY, man! Didn’t I mention that? You can make an insane amount of cash on very simple runs. And what do you do with that money? You make more money, you fool! The better to buy a delicious space station with. I have my sights set on this lovely little gold number, with purple lining and a big docking bay…

Flying a cargo haul also has some great opportunities for getting to know people. If you’re flying through dangerous areas, you can hire a few wingmen to fly overwatch for you. Well, no, let me rephrase that: if you’re flying through dangerous areas, you better hire a few wingmen. I know it’s hard to believe, but let me just spell it out for you: if you can’t outrun flux, you’re probably not going to have much luck outrunning the pirate squad in their arti’d fighters, mmkay? Paying for an escort is a LOT cheaper than losing your haul. And yes, maybe you can carry a few missiles. But not enough to down them. And not only will they not down the pirates, the missiles won’t even have the decency to make them mad. A few missiles will just make the pirates drool a bit and gigle.

Now a wingman might not be able to save you from the pirates. But at least they can give the pirates someone else to shoot at while you burn for the gate. Plus, it’s nice to have someone in-sector with you when you crash to blame it on.

“You bumped me!”
“What? What are you talking about? I was on the other side of the sector from you when you crashed!”
“You THOUGHT about bumping me! I’m very sensitive, psychically…”
“You’re a loon…”

10 Sep 2003

What Do You Mean, ‘The Title Got Erased…?’

For a long time, I was convinced that getting to 50 and going out to RvR was the only acceptable path.

Lately, though, I’ve been re-considering this. It started with everyone on the boards signing up to play on Palomides as Hibbies. It really made a bit of a difference to me to not only have a bunch of people that I know playing, but people that were similar level to me. I’ve played forever with Blackspire, but most of my time there is spent being discouraged that I am not nor ever will be level 50. They have alts that are rapidly lapping me. Sure, they try and help me, but let’s face it: trying to help me powerlevel is a recipe for frustration. You’re better off trying to teach me to eat healthy or something.

So the idea of starting out new with a group of friends, all of us newbs, kinda piqued my interest. Sure, none of us would have anything decent, but we’d all be together. Which is good, because nothing helps misery like spreading it around.

The first challenge is leveling to fifth so that I can actually choose a class. I’ve picked Valewalker, because I’ve never played a melee before, and a VW is a hybrid class, so that should be a nice introduction to melee’ing. What I’m worried about is the styles – I can’t even manage to quick-cast a spell when faced with a fight, so having to remember how styles work has me scared. They need a realm ability called “Big Honkin’ Chain” that basically fires off your chains for you. The whole idea of “Do X after Y is successful” makes my head hurt. My idea of a chain is “Start eating Ben & Jerry’s when getting the lid open is successful.” THAT I can handle.

Pessum, my theurg, is the perfect character for me, because I just turn on PBT, /stick to someone, and I’m fulfilling my party duties. But playing a VW, sheesh – I actually have to attack things! That’s SOOO unfair! I can’t go to the bathroom, go get a drink – I can’t even get up for a quick pint! Instead, I have to pay close attention to what’s going on in the game! Man, is THAT annoying… what do you folks that are tanks do to keep from having to actually play the game? Isn’t there a ‘win’ button somewhere hidden?

We had fun forming up this new mob. Of course, there were some scary moments. When I first signed on, I found out everyone had created a character named “MUSTKILLKWIP” or “DEATHTOKWIP” or even “REPLACEALLOFTHEBENANDJERRYSWITHNONFATYOGURT.” Then they all proceeded to send me scary tells. Downright frightening. Of course, I got them all back – simply joining the hunting party killed three of them right off the bat. And then there was the fun of trying to find a couple more people so that we could actually form a guild…

It’s really weird being (somewhat) able to tank, though. I’m so used to dieing quickly that after a mob lands it’s first couple of spells on me, I’m already reaching for the release button, only to realize I’m still at half-health. Kooky. And I’m used to hanging to the back of the group, but I’m not supposed to do that now. Of course, being a coward, that’s a bit harder of a habit to overcome. Now sooner does combat start then I’m running behind the Keens, trying to hide.

That’s the good thing about looking like a tree. Easy disguise in the woods. You might have to deal with getting peed on by wolfs and drunken dwarves, but that’s about the same thing that always happened to Pessum after he got killed anyway, so it’s about fair.

08 Sep 2003

Yoda, I Am Not…

We all know I love Jumpgate.

I could go on and on about the combat missions, the squad vs. squad interactions, the truckers wings that I think are insane for cruising through a sector full of flux in a tow with roughly the maneuverability of my ass in a lounge chair…

But we all know that, right? The true shocker here…and brace yourselves folks, this is a big one:

I’m not too bad at this game.

It’s true. I’m not the greatest or anything, and I won’t be rushing out to challenge Liet or G.Rasputin, or cruising to Conflux space to take on the uber flux, or anything that foolish. But on an average day, I can launch, kick the crap out of a lot of flux, and return to the station without crashing. Which is a lot more than most people would expect of me, let me tell you right now.

Of course, this simply means that I have now set myself up for complete and utter failure.

The problem is, in a normal MOG, I get into it, realize that I suck horribly, and play accordingly. However, here in Jumpgate, I feel a bit confident. So confident, in fact, that I’ve made the mistake of mentoring people who were, in turn, foolish enough to listen to me.

The result is there are now several people in the game that think I know what I’m doing. You might recognize them by their unfailing urge to open the throttle up whilst attempting to dock, attempting to battle mantas with 5% armor in their starter ship, trying to tell everyone where the pirate they just spotted is on open chat (the same open chat that pirate is listening to), or even attempting to ram flux in a suicidal charge.

Some of these, I have to admit, were things that I’ve done. However, let me just clarify for the sake of the pirates that keep showing up in my sector and blasting my shields away before flying off (for those of you that have never experienced this before, this is about as calming as a 300-pound linebacker coming up to you and chanting, “BLOOD…BLOOD…BLOOOOOOOD!” while stroking your face with their bloody palms): I do not advocate broadcasting the locations of pirates. I have never had a pirate down me, and I’m not really eager to give them a reason to start. Some day I would like to become a bounty hunter, but I will fly with full Honor Guard flags and try to make as good a sport of it as people that are trying to blow the hell out of each other possibly can make.

But for right now, I’m trying to get the almighty 26th level, at which point I can begin doing all sorts of crazy things – cargo runs, good mining, a real fighter – these are a few of my favorite things!

On the way, though, I’m trying to get new people involved in the game. I tell them how much fun I have, how exciting some of Mistake’s and mine fights with flux have been, what it’s like to down a BIG flux for the very first time…and then people sign on to the game and I teach them how to ram a station, over and over.

I would like to blame my poor judgment on the distortion of space. When you’re looking at a ship from the outside, it really does look like you’ve got TONS of room between it and the station. I can’t help it that NetDevil hasn’t put in a tow beam to let you drag people into the station docking ring. Obviously, this is a conspiracy against me. I tried to do my best – I thought she had PLENTY of room to slow down between her and the station. I calculated that she would have enough room to open her engines up and then coast down to proper docking speed in the distance she had left. Granted, I kind of forget about telling her to turn her engines off right away after hitting them, but I can’t really be blamed for that. It was an accident.

Just like the next time she flew with me and accidentally launched four purgatory missiles at me…

05 Sep 2003

Speed Bump on Interstate DT…

Just a quick peek around. That’s all we were going to do, I swear.

See, it had been a LONG time since Isten and I ran around Darktide. In fact, when he, Warchild and I had first met and started running around, I didn’t even have my uber Composite Bow. Yeah. THAT long ago.

So he hears me talking about how much fun I’ve been having running around there, and we decide it’d be fun if both of us run around. Then we’ll have SO much fun, Warchild will want to come back and throw plates at people. Great fun.

Given that on the best day my skills would be called ‘rusty,’ I figured we’d avoid the heavily populated areas and just check out some out-of-the way dungeons. Mountain Halls, maybe some Mossie action – you know, crazy stuff. I figured they’d be good spots to find some company. It wasn’t that we want to be killed over and over again or anything – we were just looking for a quiet, casual slaying that would allow us to snap off little jokes as we ran. You know, purely casual DT fun.

After a while of wandering around and not running into (or getting run over by) anyone, we decided on a new version of Darktide. In THIS version, we’d only have one life – the first person that died, lost! Doesn’t that sound fun – a new twist on Darktide? Yeah, I thought so too.

Up until Isten shot me in the back.

Okay, so the next game we played was the first person that died – not from either of us – lost! Which was definitely an improvement.

Up until those stupid damn Olthoi that are everywhere now chased me down and stabbed me in the face, the entire time ignoring Isten.

I don’t know, maybe it was his cologne or something. Myself, I would like to state clearly for the record that I firmly believe Isten willing to perform any acts to gain the confidence of the Olthoi and have them slaughter his friends. And yes, I do mean…any act. Tell the tabloids now while there’s still time, kiddos!

So now the final game we played was that the loser would be the first person to be killed by another player. Not die accidently, from the environment, or to a random monster!

And of course Isten had to cheat yet again.

He keeps trying to tell me that he didn’t summon the Bloods there, but that’s obviously a lie. I figured if we ran into anyone, there was a 50/50 shot at either of us being killed first. What I didn’t figure on was a horde of about 3 MILLION Bloods coming screaming over the hill. Screaming over the hill and completely ignoring Isten, I might add.

Oh, sure, he followed me to the Lifestone a few minutes later – but I’m pretty sure he was carrying some of the stuff I dropped when I died…

03 Sep 2003

Of Course I Can Solo That…

I just don’t believe in holding myself back for the rest of you cowards, is all.

Just because you want to whine and moan about, “Oh, it might bring friends if we attack it” or “Waaaah, it has an AoE attack” or even “That is a DRAGON you’re talking about soloing!” Don’t try and fence me in with YOUR wimpy little selves. For I am the great and powerful Theurgist! I’m a siege machine!

Why are you laughing?

Yeah, I’m pretty lousy at deciding what I should be messing with. The way I figure it, there are 50 levels. At level 50, you should be able to take on anything. Mathematically, this breaks down to 100% butt-kicking ability. Therefore, at level 39, I have a 78% butt-kicking ability. So what I thought that meant was that 78% of the critters in this game I can crush by myself. Of course, what it actually means is that .078% of the critters I can handle. With a party. Of all 50s.

I suppose this is why I’d never be a great general. For all I know, I was Custer in a previous life or something. “Indians? We can take a few Indians! We’ve got guns!”

It’s not that I don’t think about the fights I pick. I tend just not to think about them very clearly. I think the problem is the whole color scheme. I just can’t get used to the idea of orange = danger. Or purple, for that matter. But orange? I guess it should be some sort of logical chain. Orange = OJ = OJ Simpson = CRAZED KILLER WHO WILL KILL YOU – CRAZY-STYLE! But the problem is that orange makes me think of orange creamsicles. And let me tell you something: if my freezer were a dungeon, I could solo that whole damn thing, even if it were packed with oranges. See what I’m saying?

Purple’s not much better. That makes me think of Skittles. Mmmmmm. Why not just make things completely above my level brown so I can think of Chocolate Fudge Brownie while you’re at it? Then you can all wonder why you keep getting spammed about my deaths and why I never make another bubble of experience ever. Granted, that’s about true now, anyway…

It’s not like I haven’t had people trying to tell me different. Everyone in Blackspire’s tried to coach me about 50 billion times to leave the pygmies alone until I get older. But I can’t help it. They’re just not intimidating. Have you seen how short these guys are? I might as well be scared of Anson. And besides, it’s not like I ever let size intimidate me…

I mean, sure, it’s bigger than most keeps. But did I mention I’m a siege wizard? I’m built to take down WALLS, man! What’s a ten-story giant, if nothing more than a moving wall?

Oh. Right. A kicking wall. Owwwwww….

01 Sep 2003

I’m Like Long John Silver – Owning Seafood ALL DAY!

It started as an ordinary patrol.

Mistake was pretty new to the game, still learning his way around. I was all to glad to bankroll his starter ship – after all, I’m usually pretty broke, but even I could afford to outfit his starter ship with some decent gear. Which I did. I even went so far as to equip a repair beam that I’ve had forever (back when they were just introduced to the game, I got one for an RP event and somehow never had to give it back). So I throw my repair beam in one of my gun slots and launch with Mistake in tow. The plan is simple: he’ll sit there and duke it out with the enemy Flux whilst I repair his armor damage as needed.

Of course, the more observant of you might’ve noticed that I said I put the repair beam in one of my gun slots.

What was in the other slots? Why, massive guns, of course. After all, they are gun slots.

Now as you might expect, this caused Mistake a bit of alarm. Everything was going fine; he was sitting and picking off any Flux foolish enough to close with him, and I was waiting for him to take enough damage to wear down his shields and begin hitting his armor. Since we were getting used to working together, I had suggested we work right outside the station, so that we’d be near to a safe dock if the need arose. Error number 2, in case you’re counting.

Now, as to the alarm Mistake felt – well, it came about when he actually got damage. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: “Okay, you’re getting low on shields. Ooops! There they go. Armor’s getting hit – lemme kick in the repair beam now. Don’t worry about the noise – it’s loud.”
Mistake: “Heh, this is great! I can’t wait till SWEET MOTHER OF GORD, WHAT’S HITTING ME!”

Being the ever alert pilot I am, I of course instantly spun around, looking for the threat. Then I noticed the small crosshairs and sword on my display screen, indicating there was a bounty on my ample posterior.

For those of you not in the know, a bounty comes about when you attack a ship that is not flagged as Honor Guard. (Honor Guard is PK, fyi.) When you fly Honor Guard, you’re free to engage other Honor Guard-flagged ships. However, if you engage someone that is not so flagged, you gain a little bounty.

Which I had just done. Yes, in my rush to show off my repair skills to Mistake, I failed to notice the fact that I hadn’t turned off the other guns. So while the repair beam fired, so did my cannons… Whoopsie…

Now, normally this isn’t a major concern (provided the other pilot lives, of course). Merely hitting someone only gains you a temporary bounty. That is, a bounty that is cleared the next time you dock. Had I actually blasted Mistake into bits, I would’ve gained a permanent bounty, which wouldn’t be resolved until someone had collected on that bounty. And I don’t mean delivering me in a chunk of carbonite to a slug; I mean blowing-me-out-of-the-sky collected.

Now, being the ever-alert pilot, I decided that I wouldn’t really worry about this bounty. I didn’t see anyone else in the sector on my radar, and I figured I was close enough to the station that if I saw someone bearing down on me, I could scurry into the dock with my tail tucked between my legs in plenty of time.

What I didn’t figure on was the fact that stations tend to look down upon bountied pilots being near them, and will launch attack drones after such pilots.

So I’m sitting there watching Mistake slug it out with the little jellyfish, and I’ve got about five seconds of thinking, “Holy cow -some of those jellyfish are hitting me really hard!” before my ship promptly explodes in a nice flash of light and shrapnel. How about them drones?

Now I have to spend the next 30 minutes shuttling from station to station, attempting to locate equipment good enough to take into battle. I’ll tell you one thing that this game needs: more truckers! Yeah Phil, I’m talking to you! There’s never enough supplies anymore. Finding a decent power plant can take a REALLY long time. But I finally manage to scrape together a decent load-out for my fighter, and now Mistake and I decide we’ll try and complete his mission.

Missions in Jumpgate came in a variety of flavors: shipping goods, patrolling, combat, scouting – nothing real unusual there. What is unusual is the amount of hatred Octavians have for their new pilots. Why else would they give lowly Mistake a mission that would take him into heavily infested flux space?

I’m not bad at fluxing, but I was rather intimidated at the prospect of jumping into flux-heavy space. But Mistake had some good pilot ratings, and I’d hate to see them get loused up due to his unfortunate mentoring by a coward. So I sucked it up and drove on. All the way to flux country…

We worked pretty well together on the way out there. Mistake had a number of sectors to patrol, and the first two of these went off without a hitch. Some smaller flux showed up, but between the two of us we made short work of them. Then we sat facing the portal to Dark Crossroads, our last destination.

We said a few prayers and jumped in. Immediately my radar lit up with all sorts of horrible pink dots. I could practically hear the flux yelling “Kwip season!” and loading their guns as they came a-runnin’. I screamed a number of things – prayers, cries for my mother, and general purpose curses, but somewhere in that mix I must’ve gotten a warning out to Mistake, because he quickly jumped out with me hot on his tail. Of course immediately on the other side we were attacked by flux, but they were little ones, so we were able to handle them.

This scene would repeat pretty steadily for the next ten minutes. We’d jump into Dark Crossroads, spot a bunch of super bad-ass flux heading right for us, and immediately jump out, crying and shaking. Yes, I know, if the flux were smart they would’ve just sat and waited for us on the other side of the gate and blasted us as soon as we jumped. However, you’re talking about creatures that are bright pink in a sea of black space. If these guys were smart, they’d have painted themselves black a LONG time ago. And c’mon – when’s the last time you were outsmarted by calamari?

Finally, I jump in and spot our chance: a lone Manta Ray. I hate these guys because they move so friggin’ fast and turn on a dime – the whole while blasting you with nasty lasers. But I’m thinking that working with Mistake, the two of us can paste this guy. So I call Mistake in, fire off a couple of seeker missiles to buy me some maneuvering room, and launch myself at him.

After our first pass, I’ve definitely put some hurt on him, but he’s returned the favor. I was hoping to do much more damage to him, because your first pass is usually the best time to do the most damage. Mistake is still working up to cruising speed to close on us, and Mr. Manta and I begin circling each other. My job is to try and keep up with his turns and not let him get behind me. Allowing the Manta behind me is a death sentence – he’s much faster than I, and I’d have a lot of trouble shaking him once he gets there. So I keep my nose right in his face, firing away with everything I’ve got. The whole time I’m praying that all of this swooping and swerving won’t bring Mistake across my line of fire, because as hard as I’m slamming my trigger, I’d doubt I’d be able to pull short in time to keep from getting yet another bounty.

I’d like to think my missiles have a pretty good guidance system. I’d also like to think that writing for a website is someday going to make me very wealthy. And both of these thoughts hold equal amounts of validity, I’m afraid. My missiles don’t really serve any purpose other than to give me something else to crash into. Well, that and something else to accidentally shoot Mistake with. But Fate smiles upon idiots this day, as I manage to slip a missile past the Manta’s dodges and it does a decent job of kicking the crap out of his shields. At almost the same time, Mistake comes streaking in from above him – the absolute best line to nail Mantas due to their weird shape – and lands a vicious volley that destroys what’s left of his shields and taking his armor down enough that my lasers finish the job. The Manta explodes in a lovely crimson ball of flame, and as I’m bouncing up and down in my seat pumping my fist like an enthusiastic school child, Mistake is screaming bloody murder over the com.

Oh look, another one of the damnable things is closing on us. Fast. And me without a single missile to send it to slow it down.

Fortunately for me – my shields were practically gone at this point and would need some time to recharge – this guy seems much more interested in getting close and personal with Mistake. Neither one of our ships can outrun this bad boy, but with a head start Mistake can “tow” it behind him in a straight line long enough for me to line up a shot. We had no other choice – the dog-fighting had moved us far enough away from the Jumpgate that it would’ve been suicide to just make a break for it.

I scream “Line line line!” over the com and Mistake obliges, turning tail and punching his little shuttles’ engine up to the red, trying to pull ahead of the pink death screaming in on him. My ship’s slow to get started at the best of times, even with the afterburners punched, but I swing around and kick the hamster’s powering my engines for all they’re worth. I’m barely halfway to my max thrust when the Manta shrieks by beneath me, quickly pulling ahead. I can practically see the drool dripping from it’s mouth at the sight of the little Oct shuttle as it closes on Mistake. Without time for a prayer (and not knowing who the patron saint of killing seafood is anyway), I begin my dive at the Manta. 

At this point, Kwipette walks into the room and asks if I’m going to help pack.

I love my wife. I want you all to know that. This woman puts up with so much of my crap – even during my best moments – that would drive Mother Teresa into a homicidal rage. Also, she’s fully capable of kicking my ass, and has let me know on more than one occasion that the only thing preventing her from killing me in my sleep is the fact that I haven’t made out my will yet. And now she has spent the past two weeks completely packing our apartment in preparation for our upcoming move. Time that I’ve spent trying to level as rapidly as possible to better kill flux, of course. And now, she needs help. What could I do?

Pretend not to speak English, of course!

“Yo no hablo!”

She wasn’t amused. However, if there is one thing that sets Kwipette far and above every other woman that’s ever been a part of my life, it’s that she is also a gamer. Yes, it’s true. The other night, in fact, while reading my copy of Computer Gaming World, she saw an ad for a game she thought sounded cool, downloaded & installed the demo and was playing before I could say “FPS or RTS?” Yeah, she’s that cool. (Woah. I’m a little turned on now.)

Anyway, the point of that blathering segment was to demonstrate to you that she understands gaming. So after explaining that if I didn’t help her pack at some point I would find new and exciting objects being forced into my eye sockets as I slept, she then looked over my shoulder and said “What’s that big pink thing you’re about to crash into?” Which caused me to turn back to my screen with enough force to briefly shake the Earth out of orbit (yes, that’s really what brought us closer to Mars, in case you’re wondering).

I spun back in time to see that while my attention was diverted I had gotten as close as my dive was going to bring me to the manta before it began to pull away, even with my afterburners chugging. Yanking on the trigger for all I was worth, I tore a wonderful arc across the Manta’s back as my heavy lasers tore into it’s shields, almost dropping them completely in one pass. As he banked away from my fire, I burned on past him – I knew I couldn’t match him turning away. I hoped to get turned around and fire a few shots in his face to keep him from shooting at me right away.

Unfortunately, my luck was worn a bit too thin at this point. His return fire hammered my shields. I was hitting him too, but barely, and not steadily enough to keep him from pulverizing me in short order. At this time Mistake came screaming back into the fray, catching the Manta in a tight burst that weakened it enough for me to once again drive home the killing blow.

This victory came at a heavy cost. My shields were almost gone and Mistake’s armor was below 50%. And then the BIG flux showed up. Two of them, bearing down on us fast. Mistake was already pointed towards the gate and at full throttle. I saw the vapors from his damaged vessel trailing after him, leaving a line of dots in space that the nearest Eel was making like Pac-Man and gobbling up as it bore down on him. Neither of us would be able to handle just one of those things, not even together, and there was no way that Mistake could outrun it. Even as I kicked in my tired afterburners and began lining up my shot, I knew I was doomed. My only hope was to pull it off of Mistake long enough for him to make the gate.

Screaming my battle cry (“WHY IN THE HELL AM I DOING THIS!?!?!?!”), I dove after the Eel, lasers licking along it’s massive flank and barely tickling it’s shields. It was between me and the gate, and as it turned back to face me, I saw Mistake’s flash as he made the gate. Expecting to feel the bucking of my ejection pod any second, I braced and dove forward….

…only to pass completely over the Eel as it attempted to turn to track me! It spun around again to give chase, but it had badly mis-judged my (admittedly slow) velocity. It’s plasma bolts shook my battered fighter as they rocketed past and I slipped into the bright embrace of the Jumpgate. Jumpspace had never looked so beautiful.

I came through to Mistake screaming. Sure enough, a wonderful pink glow lit up my radar as soon as I returned to regular space. But these were little flux. After what we had been through, I was ready to eject and just kick these guys to death.

My bravado was fairly short-lived; I was low on fuel, Mistake was low on armor, and neither of us had any missiles left. Even low-level flux can be dangerous when there’s a lot of them. I knocked out several of them as we made our way to the gate, then Mistake towed the rest and I picked them off one at a time. Bigger flux might give us some trouble, but give me a flux I can catch up to that’s being towed by a good pilot, and I’ll climb up their tailpipe and detonate a hand grenade. We mopped up the leftovers. After the fight we had been through, we were terrified to risk going back to Dark Crossroads again. But after such a fight we also couldn’t just give up, either. We jumped in, hands poised over our jump buttons, ready to beat a hasty retreat.


Mistake decided not to wait around for any flux that might be lurking outside our scanning distance and streaked off to hit the beacon he needed for his patrol mission. A tricky maneuver even when you’re not nervous about getting blasted, Mistake nonetheless slipped through the beacon as pretty as you please and was streaking back towards me before I realized he had made it to the beacon.

We jumped back out to another Flux reception party, but it was obvious these guy’s hearts weren’t in it. Er…if they have hearts. Whatever they have, it wasn’t enough. We cleaned them up, plus a couple extra that had locked onto to a freighter passing through, and then limped our broken selves back to Octavius Core where Mistake relayed his patrol info to the mission computer and collected a fat TINY! little reward. I can’t believe we risked our butts for that little…ay yi yi…

Afterwards, flying out to Great Pillars station, we reflected upon this night. It was a night of heroes! A night of action! A night of derring-do! A night of unparalleled bravery! A night of…

“Kwip! Look out for that asteroid!”


29 Aug 2003

Couldn’t You Just Wear A Hat?

Let’s just get one thing straight here, okay? They’re not hair, they’re not a funky hat, they’re not even colorful scarves.

They’re tentacles. On your head.

And unless you’re sleeping in the sunken city of R’lyeh, that’s just wrong. Very, very wrong.

Look, I’m not one to tell you how or what you should be running around as. If you want to play that you’re a cloned human bounty hunter – hey, great, have fun. If you want to be a reformed Tuskan Raider that’s on a quest to clear his people’s name, okay, sure, I’m with you. Heck, you can even play a short Wookie Dark Jedi that thinks he’s an Ewok. Cool beans.

But just because I don’t pass judgment upon your preferred choice of looks doesn’t mean you’re free to approach me and strike up a conversation about how attractive your blue tentacle-headed body is. Because, I’m sad to say, my interest in your anatomy is likely to stop at right about the time I notice you have extra appendages growing out of your skull.

Xenophobic? Well, no, I don’t think I am. I mean, I’ll sit down with you and share a tasty beverage. I will laugh and high-five you when we toss onion rings onto the horns of a nearby Zabrak. We can even giggle like schoolgirls as we swap Nair for a Wookie’s shampoo. But I’m not going to sit down and watch you gyrate, okay? Not even if the music is REALLY good.

Look, it’s nothing personal. I don’t hate you, your species, your planet, or what have you. I just don’t find you attractive. And if you approach me and begin telling me how incredibly sexy you are, you rapidly go from ‘unattractive’ to ‘downright annoying’ faster than an Ewok on a speeder.

Alright, I will accept that you have boobies. However, so do Wookies. I rest my case. Here’s your player-granted badge of “Most Dissillusioned.” Have fun.

Personally, I think it’s a shame that we’re living in an age of clones, and I’ve yet to see ANY armies of Gillian Andersons running around. I mean, honestly, people. What good is cloning if you’re not going to do something useful with it? I think all of the NPCs should be fired and replaced with Gillian clones. THEN we’d actually have a reason to hang out at Cantinas!

Don’t give me that crap about existing in another Galaxy or a time long, long in the future; if the Force can make some goombah able to block blaster shots with a flashlight, it can damn well go fetch me a couple of hairs from the future!

Now THAT would’ve been a worthwhile race: Gillianites. Yeah. Instead, we’ve got Octopus-heads. And they’re supposed to be sexy?

Alright, someone raid Raph’s house and take away his copy of the Necronomicon right now!

27 Aug 2003