Friday, March 6, 2015

Community Chains - The Liebster

I hate chain letters. You know the ones, where Bill Gates will give everyone $50 who forwards this email because he's testing mail, or the other ones that tell a funny story and then if you don't forward it to a bajillion people you will die, alone and unhappy. On the other hand, I actually do like the chain memes where you answer a few questions, then nominate a few others to pass it on. The Liebster has the added bonus that the questions change with each step, so not only do you get the cool benefit of seeing someone answer a few questions to learn more about them, but what questions they ask tells you a little, too.

Clockwork of Out of Beta nominated me, so without further ado, I do:

1. What was your very first MMO character and why did you choose that race/class?

My very first MMO character would have been an Human Adventurer in The Realm Online. I had never played an MMO before (and to be fair, it was one of the first graphical MUDs around), and the idea of being a Jack-of-all-Trades appealed to me. I started playing during its Beta, and it didn't have any other races, so not much choice there.

2. What is your favorite role in MMOs and why? Doesn't have to necessarily be a typical part of the trinity.

Strategist. The one giving out the orders and dissecting encounters. Just like Shiro in Log Horizon! I love figuring out the puzzle behind encounters, and being able to direct a raid to success is extremely rewarding to me. Might be why I enjoy There Came an Echo so much.

My actual in-game role is largely immaterial to me, though I tend to gravitate towards healers/support. But I've DPS'd, tanked, whatever the raid needs generally.

3. What is the origin of your blogging name or gaming handle?

Talarian was the name of an elf character I made in High School for a D&D game. Kinda just stuck. It sounded elf-y, was relatively unique as far as handles go online at the time (which would have been circa 1999ish).

Years later I found out it was also the name of a race in Star Trek, The Next Generation. Rest assured, my choice had nothing to do with Star Trek. That was just a neat coincidence.

Endar, a Talarian from The Next Generation.

4. Do you have a game that you like the idea/setting of but don't or won't play?

The Elder Scrolls series. Now, to be fair, I've played a couple hours of pretty well all of them, but at the end of the day they just don't hold my attention. I like the concept of open world games, and of using skills is how you increase your ability with those skills, but in practice I find I'm way too scatterbrained to make any sort of headway in them. I get lost on these, "Oh, that's shiny!" moments that end up taking me a bajillion miles from where I'm supposed to be and then I get bored because I sudden;y have no concrete goals.

5. What was your most exciting/memorable moment in gaming?

I'm going to cheat here, because I can't pick just one. I have two.

First was the summer of 1991. I was 8 years old, and was playing Super Mario 3. I had recently had surgery that precluded me from going to summer camp, so I was stuck at home playing video games (the horror! Hah!). I had never been able to beat Super Mario 3 before, but over the week I managed to play it until I did, and I was so proud of myself. Then I had infinite P-Wings because that's what you get for beating the game, and that got boring in about 3 levels.

The second is pretty typical, but Aeris' death in Final Fantasy VII hit me pretty hard at the time. While I had been playing RPGs for years, FFVII was one of the first in 3D, and that moment you see Sephiroth put his sword through Aeris, who was still smiling, was gut-wrenching. While folks may say that the sprites of old conveyed a lot of emotion--and to be fair, they could--it wasn't the same as seeing the full rendered video of Aeris' death. That moment wasn't just about a beloved character; it was also about how games could convey emotion, story, gravitas. Basically, that moment was when my adolescent mind really thought about games as art rather than just entertainment.

6. Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?

7. If you could turn into one animal (and back) at will,what animal?

Some sort of bird. Preferably one capable of migratory flight with a large wingspan. Then I could fly everywhere instead of walking.

8. You must add one thing to gaming culture but also remove one thing what are the things? Can be a custom, behavior, etc.

I'd remove berating team mates in a toxic way when they're not up to your standards of play. Yeah, sure, you want to win, and sure, sometimes people aren't as good as you or they make mistakes. But frankly, the more time you spend typing insults, the less likely you're going to be able to contribute meaningfully, and you'll rattle your team mates into play even worse. It doesn't make logical sense, and it's really shitty behaviour. You can offer suggestions for improving play, or find someone else to play with, without being an asshole.

I'd add to gaming culture a more critical eye towards games as art. Gaming culture is already moving in that direction, but movies, books, and music all thrive because there are people who want more, who can look at something and say, "This isn't good enough, it could be better in this respect." At best today we have people who are polarized: this game is the best, or this game is the worst. The amount of actual thoughtful feedback is small in comparison, and unlike other media formats, isn't elevated in the discourse above the rabble. Instead it just gets shouted down.

9. If you had to quit writing/blogging tomorrow what would you do in its place?

Probably get off my ass and actually work on a game by myself. Or just game more.

10. If you could have one pet/mount from a game what would it be?

Probably one of the dragon mounts from WoW. Again, flight, and also, having a companion who's capable of rational thought and speech would be cool. Granted, they'd probably be less of a pet and more of a friend, but hey, that's cool.


So, my turn to come up with some questions and nominations. The questions are:

1. What is your favourite game mechanic?
2. Is there a character did you think would be cool when announced or first encountered, but in practice turned out terrible? Who? Why?
3. If your entire life turned out to be a simulation or part of a video game, would it change your outlook on life? How?
4. What is your favourite colour?
5. If you were an astronaut and going to space for 6 months, what personal item would you bring with you?
6. Which of the Seven Deadly Sins is your favourite?
7. Is there a moment in your life where you felt you were finally "in the future"? What precipitated it?
8. Cliffhangers, good technique, or annoying technique? Why?
9. Has there been a game mechanic that enraged you or felt supremely unfair? What was it and why?
10. Tortoise, or the Hare?

And my nominees are Balkoth, Rohan, Scree, Prinnie Powah, and Alternative Chat.

That was fun! #LiebsterAward, #Liebster, #Community


  1. For kicks and giggles I'm responding to your questions!

    1. Tough b/c it's broad but I like having minions and such so "pets" in general. Especially if they can do interesting things beyond "stand there and do damage." If that's too broad/general, another one I like is when a class has a swinging set of modes. The Goblin Shaman in Warhammer Online was one of my favorite examples; at its peak when it did both types but had some risk/reward for leaning to one side.
    2. GNAR! (in League of Legends) now admittedly he's improved but at first release the ADC that could turn into a tank didn't quite work out because he wasn't great at either. He's better now though so hopefully still counts.
    3. I'd probably take more risks if I knew that death or other bad outcomes weren't permanent.
    4. Blue!
    5. Definitely not my plush AT-AT, or maybe a pencil/notebook.
    6. Lust for reasons.
    7. When I realized I could answer most questions, find directions, and talk to anyone on the planet with a square in my pocket. Damn smartphones.
    8. In moderation; most creators overuse it.
    9. Mechanics that deny resources when that is your only way to respond. Mana-drain type mechanics. My first real experience with this was as a kid playing in a pokemon card tourney and an opponent had a pokemon w/ a power that could remove an energy every turn and also do damage. So none of my pokemon could do anything ever. Have hated it since.
    10. Tortoise, I was a ninja turtles fan as a kid so I always root for turtles.

  2. Oh god. I have to actually write a blog post again or be damned with bad karma for all eternity. NOT COOL, MAN!

  3. Been ages since I've done one of these!

    1. Having lots of abilities/spells to pick from, and choosing the right one for the right encounter.
    2. Pretty much everyone from FF13 earned my enmity by being whiny jerkfaces.
    3. I'd spend the rest of my years looking for the developer console.
    4. #333333 (dark gray).
    5. Something that plays the music of my choice.
    6. Sloth and pride vie for dominance, lately.
    7. Holding a smartphone, initially. Most recently, holding a tablet that weighs less than a pound while playing with an RDP client.
    8. Good in books and games where your capability to resolve the cliffhanger depends on your own pace of content consumption. Less fun when the content is doled out in tiny bits over time. Annoying when used every episode or chapter.
    9. Instant-death I.W.I.N. buttons by bosses when there's no environmental cues (like a doomsday machine starting up) -- slow-building enrages are also cool.