Has Anyone in Aerynth Ever Heard of a CURVE?

Apparently, the people at Ubi Soft are mathematicians of some sort. They subscribe to the theory that

A) The shortest distant between two points is a straight line

And, therefore, it logically follows that:

B) When a player clicks someplace they want to go, they don’t REALLY want to get there, they just want to see how far along the straight line they can go without running into some unpassable terrain feature like a tree or a wall or one of those invisible things that you can’t see, act upon or even know it’s there, but by golly it will completely disrupt your straight line-ness.

Yes, I’ve been playing Shadowbane again. But I would like to state for the record that it is not my fault; I’m obviously a product of a violent environment and unattended computer access. I’m currently pursuing plans to sue the video game industry, my parents, society, and God. (Although God may be dropped from the label if I suddenly win the lottery or if Gillian Anderson parachutes into my lap).

I’ve heard TONS of bad stuff about the game. So I went in prepared for a bit of annoyance – I even expressed my frustration at not being able to get into the game right away. I didn’t vent about my fury at losing several hours worth of experience (yet). But despite that rough start up, I’m enjoying it so far. Granted, the only reason I’m enjoying it is because so far I’m having a lot of ease leveling. Apparently the word hasn’t gotten out yet about my ability to bring Death to an entire party faster than you can say, “What the hell was THAT?”

So I’m playing a lot of it. But one thing that just makes me bite RIGHT through the leather straps is the pathing AI. Apparently, when you click “here,” the AI seems to think you mean “I’d like to wander around for a bit unless something gets in my way, or something pretty catches my eye, or really, if you just feel like dropping me off on the same continent as where I clicked, I’ll be fine with that.”

It’s completely normal for me to have an experience like this (inspiration for this comic blatantly stolen from an idea by Phil, who was planning on stealing it from Family Circus anyway, so there):

And as if it weren’t hard enough to get from point A to point B (never mind C or that bastich D!), they then put tons of CRAP in the way! I think I can understand that – I mean, if I were the Rogue Trainer, and every five minutes some goombah came running up to me yelling “OMG HI PRZ TEECH ME 2 USE SWERD!1!!,” I might find a stack of bags to hide behind, too.

But I ask you: are there no Safety Inspectors in this town? Do you have any idea what sort of liability these store owners are opening themselves up for with this stuff piled up everywhere? All it would take is someone to stumble over a bag of grain, sprain their ankle a bit and WHAMMO! They’d have lawsuits up the wang about their unsafe public areas! Why, a shady sort could own a store here with nothing more than a bit of clumsiness, a bit of overacting and a big mouth! Hrm…actually, I have to go now. I forgot to…uh…pick up…supplies, yes, supplies while I was in town…I have to hit the provisioners…and then I think the blacksmiths…oh, yes…Kwipville shall be!

Shakespeare, Pffft. How Many Oscars Has HE Ever Won?

So for those of you just joining us, the highest character I’ve ever managed to level up in Dark Age of Camelot is Bottom, my 36th level Theurge. Yes, that’s pathetic, but we all know how bad I am at things, so lemme alone. Besides, we’re not talking about my suckitude in this story. THIS is a story about ignorance.

See, Bottom lives on the server known as Percival. Percival, or Perc as us cool people like to refer to it as, is a “roleplaying server.” What does that mean? A number of things, but for the purpose of our little fun today, we’ll just quote what the Camelot Herald says about the Naming Policy on Roleplaying Servers:

Character and Guild Naming Policy
=================================

  1. You may not use any names that violate the General Rules and Guidelines. This includes the use of names that are hateful, defamatory, racist, ethnically offensive, obscene, vulgar, sexually explicit, or any other language that is offensive in nature.
  2. You may not use names that are harassing or defamatory to other players or employees of Mythic Entertainment.
  3. You may not use names of any employee of Mythic Entertainment.
  4. You may not use names of copyrighted or trademarked characters, materials or products.
  5. You may not use names from popular culture or media.
  6. You may not use names that are religiously or historically significant.
  7. You may not use proper names of areas within Dark Age of Camelot for character names. Guild names MAY use the proper names of specific areas, to help promote roleplaying and realm pride.
  8. You may not use proper names of NPCs within Dark Age of Camelot.
  9. You may not use names containing titles or ranks within them.
  10. You may not use names that refer to drugs or that are drug related.
  11. You may not use names that contain a phrase, sentence or any fragment of a sentence.
  12. You may not use names where a combination of the first and last names violate any of the above rules.
  13. You may not use misspellings or alternative spellings of names that violate any of the above rules.

and this:

Naming Policy for Roleplaying Servers.
=====================================

  • All names must fit into the medieval setting.
  • All names must fit into the realm that you are playing in.
  • All policy enforcement for names on the roleplaying servers will be done aggressively by members of the DAoC CS staff, of Server Lead and higher authority. It is in Mythic’s sole judgment whether a name breaks the policy, and we will rename characters accordingly. If you see someone with a name that obviously breaks the roleplaying ruleset, please report them.
    • So…with this in mind, when it came time to pick a name for my character, I thought long and hard about it (yeah, in important matters, it’s possible for me to do that). I had just finished a local community theater production of Midsummer, and I really, really loved it. Out of all of the Bard’s works, this play has always been one of my favorites. In our production, the role of Bottom, an incredibly arrogant, obtuse but loveable weaver was played by a friend of mine (to get an idea of the sort of person Bottom is, read this excerpt – or just take my word for it, okay?). My buddy played the role unbelievably well, and was absolutely the star of the show.

      Arrogant, foolish, and turned into an ass? With the way that I behave, it seemed like that was a perfect fit for my character.

      Of course it flashed through my mind that juvenile people would instantly assume I was talking about my tush, but I thought – hey, this is the roleplaying server! Everyone here should at least have a passing knowledge of who I’m referring to with this name! Why, even Yellow Rat Bastard immediately got the reference – and if HE could get it, I had great faith that anyone could get it. Anything, for that matter, since on his best days YRB has roughly the same recollection power as your average rock.

      I have been playing that character confidently since three months after release. Yeah, I only made 36th, I suck, I know. Stop getting distracted!

      So it struck me with a little amazement and annoyance when I received an email two weeks ago telling me my name had been appealed and I had to submit five alternates within the next 24 hours. Well, of course I was miffed that some little dumb-ass middle-school dropout whose idea of medieval was learnt from “A Knight’s Tale.” But I quickly shook that annoyance – hey, Mythic is full of tons of well-read froods, I’m sure that it’s simply a mistake. They’ve GOT to recognize the reference, and once I explain it to them, everything will be cool! I compose a smarmy little email, where I confide to the Mythic staff that OBVIOUSLY the person who appealed me had never heard of the Bard’s most enjoyable comedy, confident that once I explained where the name came from and that the surname Bottom, in fact, came from Botham, both of which names existed in the medieval era (Anyone remember Bottom the Chemist? What – like I’m the only guy that read up on medieval alchemy here?). I composed my appeal with tongue-in-cheek humor, confident that once matters were explained, everything would be all right, and order and logic would once again be returned to the universe.

      Instead, I received this reply:

      “On our Roleplaying Servers, we require players to use names which fit within the “spirit of the game.” This means that we require players to use proper birth-names, rather than nicknames, descriptions, references to personal history or past deeds, etc. As such, the name BOTTOM was inappropriate.”

      Urmm… apparently, somewhere in my letter I claimed “Bottom” was a nickname…no, wait, no I didn’t… Oh, then I must’ve said it was a description…hrm. Nope, didn’t say that, either. A reference to personal history or past deed? I shudder to think how one would get that nickname for a past deed…Strike three, you’re out! Apparently what happened when I appealed is that the person reading my appeal suffered a massive brain injury to cause them to spew forth a bunch of crap that had no bearing whatsoever on my name, before they were led off to bed and a nice happy pill from the men in white suits.

      I understand how hard it is to admit when you’re wrong. Especially, as I’m forced to conjecture here, when someone else in your company does something amazingly stupid and then you’re left to explain said stupidity. I know how frustrating it can be. But, see, the thing that really marks you as a class act, is when you can admit that yes, we completely screwed up and we’re sorry and what that person said made no sense whatsoever and we’ll fix it right away!

      Mythic, I wubs you. Immensely. I think you all work very, very hard for a lot of ungrateful, nasty people. I’m deeply, deeply indebted to you for the amount of fun I’ve had RvR’ing. It has provided me with some of the funnest gameplay since I first started AC. This rant isn’t directed at all of you. This little bitch-fest is directed at the one or two people involved in the name appeals process who lack any depth of thought beyond “What names sound like nicknames for people’s butts”.

      Look, I’m not one to point any fingers here, but when one of the most famous guilds on the server is “A Drunken Holy Guy,” you have to realize what a grade-A  nincompoop you sound like when you try and tell me that a name from a play by Shakespeare does not fit into the “spirit of the game.” I don’t mean to diss the Holy Guys, mind you – every single one of them I’ve met are incredibly cool. But come on – how can you seriously enforce ANY naming policy when you allow that? And don’t get me started on the “Combat Machines” guild.

      I was going to start a guild called the “Rude Mechanicals,” but I figured that would just blow some gaskets on people right away.

      Everyone would probably assume we made siege machines that gave you the finger or something.

      Fate, Why Dost Thou Torment Me?

      I understand that developers work very, very hard on games.

      I get that.

      I understand that people involved in the game company work very, very hard on games.

      Got it.

      However, it seems that there’s always some person or persons that are in charge of a vital, important, NECESSARY part of the game that are completely and totally deranged.

      I’m not sure who gets the blame here. All I know is that I pre-ordered my copy of Shadowbane, and I was not only happy about getting it express shipped, I was downright smug about it. I couldn’t wait to get my minotaur rocking faces a full DAY before my friends (and Yellow Rat Bastard) even got their copies of the game! I would spend long hours composing hiakus to Rat about the fun I was going to have a full DAY before he got his copy.

      Receiving my game
      Creating a minotaur
      Rat are you jealous of me?

      I was a little miffed that the game didn’t arrive at Casa de Kwiplings on the 25th, the day it was supposed to ship. I mean, silly me and all, but I kind of consider “Same Day Air” to mean “It Comes To You The Same Day It’s Released,” and not “We’ll Get Your Shit To You One Of These Days.” But hey, I had Ben & Jerrys in the fridge, I was prepared to be patient. More importantly, Rat hadn’t got HIS yet, and he had longer to wait than I. That’s the string I clung to in order to preserve the little marble of sanity rolling about my skull.

      It was with great eagerness, then, that I raced home tonight. Sure enough, Federal Express had given me the sweet, sweet love. The package was there.

      The Grail.

      The first thing I had to do, of course, was to log into IM and send peals of laughter directed at Rat. Smugly, I sat before my powerful computer, Shallow Thought, and installed this new obsession. Yes, I had heard all the bad stuff about the game from a lot of people. But remember the key point here: I had the game. Rat did not. That was the important part.

      So of course it was that Fate took notice. She’s never been kind to smug bastards. Especially smug bastards named Kwip.

      When I attempted to create my account, I received basically the same results as trying to engage in an intellectual debate with Rat.

      Yeah. That was exactly how much fun I got out of Shadowbane on day one.

      Does it make me evil to wish the fleas of a thousand camels infest the jockstrap of the person responsible for this joke? Because if so, you can color me solid evil, baby.

      I don’t know, I think the problem is I was spoiled by AC. It was the first MOG I played right at launch, and the smoothest launch I know of. Curse your togetherness, AC! Well, granted, I also remember the later woes of the zone troubles…guess they learned their lesson…

      Anyway, one of these days I’ll (hopefully) get into SB. Maybe even long enough to write about it…

      I THINK I Remember This Quest…

      The problem is, I bragged to Ben-li Sung recently that I knew all about the Tikola’s Dagger quest.

      Then I realized it had been something like a year since I last did it. For all I know now, you open the first door and the Olthoi Queen comes out and rapes your eye sockets (recently voted top fear amongst Derethian adventurers!). So I had to be sure I could do it again.

      Big mistake. Giant. HUGE mistake.

      Now of course, the previous times I had done it, I always had someone with me that had some ungodly lockpick skill. So the first door in the place didn’t even slow us down. But now, I found that on my own I had to do the other parts of the quest – the parts, sadly enough, that involved talking to the Insane Short-Haired Swamp Women (ISHSW, for short). The first one was obviously a pothead, as she immediately sent me out for papers. The next one… well, the next one had her own little ‘perks’ that immediately endeared me to her…

      And let me tell you something: I don’t care what those guides at CoD say, these wood golems drop a heart like once every BILLION deaths! So if you try and do this, be prepared for a LONG wait. And bring a lot of arrows. Fire, preferably. Greater Fire if you’re looking for the whole “Shock and Awe” effect.

      As you read above, I got sick of the whole waiting for a heart thing and grabbed the next best thing. Hey man, I don’t know where she gets off demanding a HEART. What, like it can’t be carved out of a branch or something? C’mon, have you seen that key? We’re not talking anything complicated here! We could just as easily run this thing down to True Value Hardware and have fifty copies of it knocked out!

      So finally, after reason had failed, I had to break IT out… Pepe, the Tusker Head Sock Puppet! Yeah. When reason fails, there’s only one thing you can count on…

      Pepe.

      Let’s Do This.

      Here we are again.

      Man, I’m sitting here, writing, erasing, writing again, deleting, RE-writing…blah. I should be able to copy and paste a story from last year or the year before that! I know, I know, I’m being lazy. But it’s not just lazy. I’m actually scared.

      I’m very, very, VERY scared.

      I worry a lot. A lot of people that don’t know me find that surprising. They see the jokes, the comics, the silly behavior, and they write me off as this Puck-ish character (uh, that’s from Shakespeare, not that idiot on that MTV show). And don’t get me wrong: I like being silly. I like making people laugh. If you’ve had a bad day, but coming to my site and reading about my frustrations with zombies makes you forget all about it and laugh – well, my work here is done.

      I’ve never really been good at anything for most of my life. Oh, I can get by doing this and that – you know how it goes, Jack of All Trades, Master of None and all that. I can pretty much adapt to any situation I find myself in, especially if that situation involves needing things to be screwed up. But sometimes, when I get going with a really wild idea, sometimes I manage to grab the lightning. People still mention how much they liked the ninja story. I still feel an insane amount of pride when people ask if the great proposal caper was for real (it was, folks – Kwipette still wants to slap me every time we go into a movie theater!). Yes, sometimes I do things so right that all I can do is hold on as the story and laughter unfolds around me.

      Falling in love with Kwipette was one of those things.

      The very first night I met Kwipette, I showed her Asheron’s Call. Man. I still have to shake my head at that, and I’m a super geek. But it amazes me more that she actually stuck around afterwards! Not only that, but before long, I had her playing online with me – in fact, when we lived 45 minutes apart, we used to sign on together and run around hunting just to ‘keep in touch.’ Heh. Yeah, I knew she was special. The second night I knew her, I took her to Yellow Rat Bastard’s gaming shop to meet some of the gang. I don’t know what I was thinking – maybe it was some sort of self-hate mechanism, trying to show her the worst side of me to scare her off? Ugh. Apparently she’s just as insane as I am, though, ’cause she stuck with me.

      We were married in October of 2002. For those of you that missed out on it, I wish you could’ve been there. It was a party that people will be talking about for YEARS afterwards (I know the hotel my cousins stayed at – 20 of them[that’s not even half of them] – will certainly not forget it…they still haven’t repaired all the smoke damage…).

      Book-ending that happiest occasion of my life are two tragedies: my beloved aunt died of cancer right before the wedding, and my dear young cousin died just three months after my wedding, leaving behind a beautiful family. We’ve seen the heights of joy and the depths of sorrow, all in a pretty brief span of time.

      And here we are. We’ve been up, we’ve been down – we’ve even been to New Jersey… and I’m scared.

      I’m scared because I want something badly, and I don’t know how to express it to you. Me, the Jabberjaw of the new millennium, and I’m sitting here writing and re-writing so much my cursor is accruing frequent flier miles. I can make you laugh – maybe not everyone all the time, but I feel confident that most people that come here can at least share a chuckle or two with me over some bit of silliness I touched upon. But now – now I want to make you care. And I’m scared that if I can’t do that, then I’m going to do worse than I did last year, and this whole fund-raising thing is going to be written off as a fluke.

      Let me back up a bit. Some of you are really wondering what the heck I’m talking about now. Well, in a nutshell, I’m talking about MS. Kwipette’s got it. Uh, that’s Multiple Sclerosis, not shares of Microsoft (although if anyone’s out there that wants to trade, please let us know!). Kwipette was diagnosed with MS on April 28th, 2000. For those of you that don’t know what MS really is, check out this link. I vividly remember the phone call. I was at work and she called in – she had just gotten the doctor’s results. Needless to say, she wasn’t exactly in the greatest frame of mind. Of course, being the eternal optimist I am and knowing very little about MS, I was certain it wasn’t as bad as she thought it was.

      Whoops.

      I can’t really explain what went through our minds. I remember reading this pamphlet that was titled “MS and You: An Introduction!” and it was chock full of bright colors and smiling people. I wanted to smash the author’s face in. It’s tough, because when something like this happens, you immediately focus on the worst – how can you not? – and we were no exception. We knew it wasn’t really a fatal disease – but when you read about someone like JK Rowling’s mother dying of MS, that tends to stick more in your mind than the thousands of people with near-normal life expectancies. We didn’t really want to talk to anyone about it. We tried to figure out how to tell our parents, but of course those things never work out as smoothly as you plan. It was pretty much a mess all around – confusion, fear, tears, gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair – downright biblical, you might say. Kwipette had her first major episode when we were supposed to go out west for my step-sister’s wedding. I had to leave her in the hospital – yeah, lemme tell you how good THAT felt – and give my folks some lame story about her having to work at the last minute. I couldn’t dump that on their laps and ruin the wedding! After the big day (and man, if you thought our wedding was big, you shoulda seen this production! I’ve seen Broadway shows with less choreography than that wedding!), I pulled my mom and step-dad aside and broke the news to them. Mom had picked up on something wrong long before that, of course. Moms are good at that. So we hugged and cried and did all the fun stuff that families do at times like this.

      Yeah, there’s a lot of those ‘revelation’ stories that stand out in my mind. That’s just the one big one I decided to dump on you. Kwipette’s got some more – a few real doozies, too. LOTS of fun to go around there, lemme tell ya.

      So. We struggled with this ‘secret’ of ours, never sure who we should tell. It sounds dumb, but there’s almost a stigma that you feel about it – a guilt that goes along with it. Yeah, it’s dumb, but I’ll bet most people that have been in similar situations would understand. It’s a tough thing to cope with. Kwipette’s done pretty well with it the past few years. I’ve gotten better at giving her shots – she gets injections of Beta Seron every other day to help lessen the frequency and severity of MS attacks, reduce the accumulation of lesions (areas of damage) in the brain, and slow the progression of disability. Does it work? Not a clue. We do know that she’s been pretty lucky so far – one of the things she feared most was not being able to walk down the aisle of the church for our wedding, and she did fine. It was ME who tripped. Stupid shoes…

      But lately – yeah, it’s been progressing. I’m a little scared to even write about it, to be honest with you. Maybe it’s some superstitious fear that I have that to name something is to call it into existence. But it’s there. She’s been having more trouble with numbness in her legs lately. Ever try walking when both of your legs are asleep? Yeah, it doesn’t really make you the most graceful of creatures. So she constantly worries about looking clumsy or drunk. Plus, there’s the fun that is bum knee! Wheee! Kwipette’s got a trick knee. After several rounds of surgery, that thing’s still acting like a jerk. ‘Cause, you know, MS isn’t really ENOUGH to deal with – if you’re gonna have woes, by golly, then you need to have WOES!

      It’s weird. If you see Kwipette sitting someplace or walking a short distance, you probably would never pick up on it. But if she has to be on her feet for a while, or do something like climb steps or something, you can see a bit of a stumble to her step. And yeah, she might just look clumsy or dopey. And you might be tempted to laugh or make a joke. And I might be tempted to see if your head unscrews…

      I think I’m the one having a harder time of this whole thing. She feels embarrassed when she has to do things like use a cane or a wheelchair. It’s rare that she needs it, so when she uses it (as we did a couple of days on our Honeymoon in Disney – that’s a LOT of walking to do!), she feels like she’s cheating or something. Me, I just get mad.

      I get mad when people stare. I get mad when people give us funny looks if I go get the car for her. I get really mad when we park in handicap spots (yes, she has a placard) and people give us dirty looks. Ooooooooh, do I get mad. Logically, I understand they’re just trying to be ‘good citizens’ and look out for ‘cheaters’ using the handicapped parking spaces. But emotionally, I want to punch them in the throat while explaining to them that yes, just because someone can walk doesn’t mean that it’s painless or easy to walk. And when we go into the grocery store and she leans on the cart as we walk around, that’s not because she’s lazy or has poor posture. It’s because that walking tires her out and causes her pain. Really, I understand that you’re acting out of ignorance when you shoot her dirty looks if she stops in the aisle for a moment to grit her teeth in frustration because her feet aren’t doing what she’s telling them to do. I just hope that you understand when you snap something rude to her and I knock you down and stand on your throat, that I don’t really mean it, I’m just frustrated by the hand that Fate has seen fit to deal us.

      Okay, I’m not really that bad. I’ve never hit anyone or even menaced anyone in the grocery store. Yet. But it’s hard to deal with parking in a handicap space, helping the woman you love more than anything in the world walk to the door, and looking back to see some jackoff getting out of his car to inspect the handicap placard on your car to see if it might be a fake just because he saw that there womanfolk walkin’!

      Sigh.

      Sooooo…I go on this long tirade to say this is/was my mindset in dealing with this whole thing. I was really, really nervous the first time I put ‘our story’ up on the web for everyone to see. Hey man, I watch the news – I know what gamers are like! How they’re all addicted, emotionally unbalanced, unstable crackpots just looking for excuses to abuse their fellow man!

      Right.

      The first night, after receiving the first three hundred dollars in pledges, Kwipette and I sat on the bed reading some of the emails I had printed out from people sending their thoughts, prayers, funny stories, tales of their loss, grief, or their own personal triumph against such things. We sat, passing the letters back and forth, alternately crying and hugging and laughing. These were our people. Could these be the same vile, juvenile, poor-social-skill having people that the media was describing as “gamers”? Those same people that the news would have us believe could snap at any time – could those possibly be the same people who were now writing to us from all over the world, pledging money to our MS Walk team?

      Gamers are vile, childish, immature people that lurk in their parents’ basements and are completely socially underdeveloped. So says the media. But you know what? The first year we did the Walk, our local newspaper ran a wonderful piece on us, talking about how our fellow gamers from all over the world came together for this worthy cause, pitching in to help a friend that most of them had never met, barely knew – that only shared a joint love of games.

      Wanna know how many national/international news agencies picked that story up? No, come on, I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count. What’s that? Zero, you say? Why, good heavens Miss Moneypenny, you’re CORRECT! Nobody seemed very interested in a bunch of gamers doing something amazing for a great cause. Nope, not the television, not the newspaper, not the radio – zip. But if I went on a shooting spree, what do you want to bet they would’ve been slobbering at the muzzle to cover all these ‘violent’ games I play? Oh, and don’t forget demonic – we can’t overlook the e-vul influence of these games! The good will, kindness, charity, and amazing coolness of our fellow gamers is always overshadowed by a few mentally unstable people whose families are desperate to find a scapegoat to lay the blame upon and an over-zealous media that loves to expose the ‘dark side’ of gamers.

      Well, not this time. This year, I want to ROCK PEOPLE’S FACES. And I want your help. See, you guys have always been there for us. After I wrote that first story, the outpouring of support was overwhelming. And last year, despite my screwing up the prizes I set up for people, we still got a good response. But it wasn’t as good as the first year, and that’s got me nervous this year. I’m afraid that I’m going to pour my heart into this, and there’s just not going to be the concern there once was. I’m afraid that the MS story is just going to be another internet ‘has-been,’ relegated to the same shelf as the groundhog page or the dancing baby. I know I can’t make people care, but I can sure as hell try.

      I want you to care. Kwipette and I have a wonderful life, despite all the hardships I whine about. There is not a single day that goes by without me thanking God for giving me her. I usually go to bed after her at night, and sometimes I just watch her sleep, wondering if she really understands how much I love her and how incredible my life has been since I met her. And I wonder – could Shakespeare write something moving enough to convey the gift she is in my life? Probably not. But he would definitely do a better job than I of making you want to get involved – to inspire you to do what you can to help the thousands of people like Kwipette that suffer from this disease. But he’s not here, so I have to stumble through as best I can, and hope that as I reach out to the gaming community, some (if not all!) of you will reach back.

      I’m not asking for your money to run this site. We get by fine on our own (although if Mr. Gates happens upon this, I’d like to say the site is entirely run on Microsoft products, and I’d be glad to move into your guest house, thanks). But don’t get me wrong – I am asking for your money, just not for us. Specifically, I’m asking for you to pledge for me here. It’s a little trickier than it has been before, but I’m hoping that it won’t be too much of a headache for anyone. If you can pledge, that is fantastic. If you work for a gaming or gaming-related company, please feel free to contact someone in your public relations department on my behalf to see if your company would be interested in helping to sponsor Team NeenerNeener.Net at the 2003 MS Walk. Or send me their name and information, and I’ll get in touch with them.

      The Walk this year is May 4th. I’m starting early, because I’m going to work hard at this. I’m going to contact every media outlet I know of. I want to raise a lot of money as soon as I can, and I want to get media coverage showing people that these are gamers, coming together to help a damn good cause. If they want to talk about ‘negative impacts’ and ‘violent tendencies,’ well, let’s just give them something else to talk about, even if it’s only for a little while.

      Right now, I’m going to show this story to Kwipette, the same as I’ve done two years past. She will read it, we’ll both hug each other and maybe cry a little, just as we’ve done before. Or maybe not. We’ve done our share of crying lately, and you know what? I’m pretty tired of it. I just can’t be that sad anymore. We have a wonderful life together, and I’m blessed for it. I know a lot of perfectly healthy people that can’t say the same thing. So who’s really afflicted here? Kwipette says I make her happy. I’m happy because I have the love of an amazing woman. And I’m happy because through this small talent of mine, I’ve hopefully gotten to touch all of your lives and maybe share with you some of the happiness I’ve experienced. A lot of you have paid me back in your own way, with your own tales, your own well-wishes to Kwipette, or with your thoughts and prayers. I hope I can count on you again. If you cannot help yourself, then help me spread the word – post to every message board you use, manage, or even know of. Don’t be obnoxious about it or anything – please don’t spam! – but just drop a line that if anyone would be willing to help us out, it would be greatly appreciated. Link some of the stories you like, give people a few laughs before you start hitting them up for money on our behalf. 😉

      There’s a lot of bad things going on in the world right now. I can’t do anything about that. But what I can do – and what you can help me to do – is to draw the line right here and say, “This is the spot that we are standing. Here is where we are dedicated to making a difference.” I know which side of that line I’m standing on. I hope you come and join us.

      Live, Love, Laugh.
      Kwip

      PS – Just in case you missed it, here’s the pledge link: https://www.nationalmssociety.org/home/account_1.asp?m=e&pa=&pta_a=8549675&pta_n=1&pd=PAC0EWLK20030504LAN&pt=PACW642002

      I’ve also been told that the above site’s not working for some people. Sigh. Nothing’s ever easy, is it? Blah. If you’re having trouble with the direct link, you can go here:
      https://www.nationalmssociety.org/pledge/index.asp

      Search for Shawn Williams, team NeenerNeener.Net, and we’re doing the walk in Pennsylvania. That should be enough info to find me in there. For some reason, their secure server is slower than me getting out of bed, so please be patient as that thing loads.

      Update – if the MS Website is broke, please keep trying, folks – please. I know it might be frustrating, but it really is worth it.

      WHY Did I Chose This Class Again?

      The problem with having an undead pet is that every other undead in the area instantly assumes you’re their buddy. I can’t walk by a cemetary without getting a bazillion tells and group invites.

      Which leaves me wondering – who the heck is letting all these goombahs out of their rightful graves? There are somewhere around 20 BILLION undead roaming around Albion. I hear that Hibernia is just as bad. And Midgard? Hey man, they don’t call that place “Corpsicle of the North” for nothing!

      Now, call me crazy,

      Death tells you, “You’re crazy!”
      You tell Death, “Quiet, slut!”

      Ahem.

      As I was saying, I might be crazy here, but if my countryside were being plagued with more living dead than a George A. Romero set, I just might start thinking of precautions – you know, like LOCKING THE FRIGGIN’ CRYPT DOOR! Or hey, here’s an idea – CREMATION!

      Honestly, people, do we have the most evil Funeral Directors in existance or what? These guys are burying bodies probably about two inches underground, and then pausing in their grave-filling-in duties to read favorite passages from the Necronomicon or something.

      It’s one thing if undead are summoned. See, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. You need someone to charge into a crowd of goblins, or chase down a pesky kobold, or do something REALLY useful, like open a pickle jar. So wham, bam, Clatu Verata Nictu, there’s a handy lil’ helper. Then when you’re DONE with them, you release their little ol’ tormented soul, and AWAY THEY GO!

      But is that how things work now? OOOoooooooooooh, no! Let me tell you – walking past the cemetary as a necromancer is like walking by a construction site as Kylie Minogue in a push-up bra and a thong. Everyone and their skeleton suddenly thinks you owe them a buff or two, and heaven forbid you have something IMPORTANT to do, because then you’re just a ‘hater,’ and wait till the neighbors hear about THIS! And don’t try and tell them that you only buffed your servant because he’s your PET, or you’ll have a dozen zombies suddenly clamoring to prove to you how useful they can be around the house – and until you’ve seen a zombie play fetch with his own entrails, you don’t know what losing your appetite really is…

      So look – we’ve got vaults. We’ve got them ALL OVER the friggin’ place! Here’s an idear: tired of deceased uncle Joe constantly coming back to lay waste to your town? LOCK THE DAMN CRYPT DOOR NEXT TIME! That’s why there’s big giant boulders! Roll a few of those suckers in front of the door, and I promise you he won’t be tra-la-la’ing back into town every five minutes, and you won’t have to keep sending dumbass adventurers down into the crypt to retrieve your grandmother’s brooch! Yeeesh! PLUS, the big boulders will keep idiot spelunkers from disturbing the rest of the zombies – everyone wins!

      Yaaaay, Crotch-Shooting ‘Sploit!

      Okay, I think we just need to come to terms with it: monsters are dumb.

      Even semi-humanoid mutants are no rocket scientists. You’d think that having to survive in a world where you’re not sure where the cheese on the pizza stops and your melting face begins would teach you a thing or two about at least TRYING to be clever. But apparently no, that’s not meant to be.

      Neocron has some really, really fun monsters. But unfortunately they are so blindingly stupid they make me look like a brilliant strategist.

      I mean come on, these guys are making Jar-Jar Binks look like General Patton when it comes to strategies. I respect the fact that you mutant fruitcakes want a fair fight. But let’s face it – if someone is ducking under a large pipe and blowing holes in your crotch, the least you can do is CROUCH DOWN AND BURN THEIR FACES OFF!

      I don’t know why on earth I’m complaining. If it weren’t for these brainiacs, I’d still be second level and trying to figure out how to use a knife. But thanks to these brain-damaged gladiators, I’ve now got a shiny new assault rifle, which I put to good use blowing large holes in their crotches. After all, we can’t let them reproduce and spread their stupid seed any further, can we? Not that I think there’s much chance of that – these guys have those melted-flesh look that make Yellow Rat Bastard look like Fabio.

      So my question is, Is this an exploit? Well, yes, obviously it’s a pretty brutal exploit. But do I feel guilty doing it? Well, no. Hey man, if this mutant scum wants to infest our city, am I to blame when they haven’t mastered the powerful ninja combat technique called the “CROUCH”?

      It’s not even that, really. They COULD shoot you without crouching. They’re just being lazy! And why on earth should I reward laziness? I should NOT! Therefore, if I find a mutant that is too lazy to attack me when I’m crouched behind a pipe, I have every right to shoot him in the crotch until he dies.

      Ed. note: it’s really not entirely necessary to shoot them in the crotch. Headshots work just as well.

      No they don’t, shut up. The mutants MUST be shot in the crotch!

      Talk About Dead-End Jobs…

      I am a FIRM believer in Unions. I think Unions helped make life great for everyone. Nowadays they’ve got they’re share of fatcat, worthless, corrupt and idiotic goombahs, too, but hey – if our government can have them, why can’t everyone? It’s the ultimate in Equal Opportunity! Stupidity in every home!

      Now. Having said that…where the hell was the Undead Union when they were negotiating labor contracts?

      Look, I’m all for forced labor when you’re a powerful wizard like moi. After all, I’m level TEN with my mighty Necromancer! But man, if you thought being something like a scout or paladin sucked, imagine the life – well, unlife – of these poor goombahs! You think that getting beat almost to death in order to finish that quest is a pain? Imagine having to do the same thing for someone who has no risk of getting hurt! And, to make matters worse, the whole time you’re fighting, this guys’ standing next to you screaming out orders! It’d be like playing Street Fighter II with your little brother watching!

      Okay, Team Leaders, I understand that you guys have a terribly, terribly difficult job. I got it. But do you think you could have made a little bit of a stink (no pun intended) about the way you’re being treated? I mean, where the heck was the Undead Team Leader when they introduced the concept of Necromancers?

      “Quick, Magroth’s gone to the loo! Let’s assign the undead as servants to Necromancers!”
      “Hey, yeah, great idea! Oh – and better yet, make it so the Necromancer CANNOT be attacked when he has an undead guy around!”
      “I like the cut of your jib, mister! Keep those ideas coming!”
      “Wait wait wait – what if the undead not only doesn’t get any xp, but they can’t pick up any LOOT, either?”
      “My god, I’m getting goose pimples!”

      Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing I like more than ordering my little peon into a horde of monsters and watching them kick the crap outta him for ten minutes or so before deciding to heal him. I find it to be very therapeutic. And then making him do the Happy Dance before I give him any buffs? Sheer joy.

      But I have to admit – I feel a tiny bit guilty every time I send him marching off to his death. Er…re-death. I know, if I felt so guilty I shouldn’t be giggling every time I do it, but c’mon – you’ve got to admit it’s kinda funny the way they sigh and roll their eyes every time you send them charging to their doom. It’s like having your very own Marvin the Neurotic robot, ya know? Of course, with my luck, one of them’s going to read this and next time I try and send my little peon into battle, he’s going to get some smart idea of his own…

      They Grow ‘Em Big ‘Round These Here Parts…

      Did you know there’s a new island to the East? And that statues aren’t locked anymore?

      I didn’t.

      I sign in tonite to harass Arlaine, only to find someone left the statue in Nanto unlocked! Mwuah-ha-ha-ha!

      Arlaine tells you, “Hey hey! Where should I meet you?”
      You tell Arlaine, “Wow! Meet me in the statue dungeon! This is great! It’s unlocked!”
      Arlaine tells you, “The stat…aren’t you level one?”
      You tell Arlaine, “Yeah, wh….AIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEE!!! THEY’RE SPITTING ACID! GAIIIEEEE! MAKE IT STOP!”
      Arlaine tells you, “So we should just meet at the lifestone then, eh?

      You know, sometime I’d like a little RESPECT. I know how to play this game! I know when to dodge out of a dungeon, how to perch, how to snag monsters on corners, how to, um…

      Death says, “Die in really interesting and unique ways?”

      Yeah, die in really…shaddup! My point is, see, I know a LOT. Just because I go into a dungeon full of insane monsters with insane spawn rates and I’m only level one does NOT mean I’m going to die!

      Arlaine tells you, “So…meet at the lifestone, right?”
      You tell Arlaine, “Um…yeah. But I CHOSE to go there!”

      I don’t really know what happened down there. One minute I was in pleasant warm portal space, the next minute, someone was vomiting acid in my face. I decided what I really needed to do was to go back down there – and THIS time, I’d go SLOWLY, making sure I CAREFULLY explored the entrance…

      Death snickers.

      So I get in, and sure enough, there’s a monster coming. But what’s this? It’s just a drudge! A tiny little drudge! And we all know there’s no reason to fear them… One drudge beat-down, coming up!

      The rest, as they say in my country, is history. After a few attempts to wear my buttocks as a slipper, the Drudge Hulk contented himself with chasing the other statues around the dungeon and playing “Kwiptag,” which apparently consists of slapping another critter as hard as they can with my corpse. If there’s any splattering, then they’re it, and the gruesome process is repeated.

      Needless to say, I’ve stopped trying to retrieve my corpses…

        
      Coincidence? You decide…