Massively Multiplayer Online
#1
There are two topics that can be brought up in relation to this concept. First, and most literally, is "first wave" mmorpgs like EQ, RuneScape, World of Warcraft, Dark Age of Camelot and so on. Due to my rhetorical shortcomings I won't be able to express this clearly but there was very much a particular type of 'magic' to those games that I have never experienced outside of them. Classic WoW was a particularly interesting example because the developers managed to replicate an old game almost perfectly as if it had been teleported to present from its original time. The experience was only residually like the original run of the game and this only becomes noticeable or apparent in long grinding or questing sessions where you are alone or as much as you COULD be alone: classic wow was also absurdly overpopulated compared to the original game and even the most obscure overworld locations would be choked with other players and people passing through. 

There was something almost ecological about the nature of millions of people delving into this world of massive online experiences from a position of complete ignorance, something about this lead many people to behave in a more authentic and unbound manner, both for better and worse. This period was shortlived because the ignorance and unfamiliarity is not something that could ultimately last, which brings me to second topic in relation to this thread, a more expansive look at "massively multiplayer online" during this time in general. Though I think this all peaked in the afforementioned RPGs where thousands are online sinultaneously, things like XBL and CS:S also had this "unbound behavior" phenomenon. Moments spent on MMO type games taught me a lot about the nature of conflict, hierarchy, male socialization, fear, trolling, exploration, differing 'personality types' etc... 

I'll expand on this when I think of how to describe more specific examples but for now I am hoping this suffices as an OP.
#2
Point that immediately comes to my mind is a video I saw of some retarded yellow insect talking about "logging in to do my daily's". I can't find it now but I'll return if I can. If you just search "Genshin Impact dailies" you get the point. Lots of trendy insects talking about their optimised routine to get their daily hour of gametoil done for maximum returns.

The essential thing that happened in my mind is that in MMOs the emphasis shifted from the appeal of a massive shared experience to being "a game". You may have picked up in other threads that I kind of fucking hate games even if I'm one of the strongest video game defenders online. The weak link in the experience is virtually always the game part, and that part appeals to the weak links in the audience. MMOs went from an exploration-based frontier for cat-people to a static and mapped out space of pretty much completely contrived challenges for yellow people to waste their lives on. These people don't recognise a worthwhile experience without external markers of value. Completely antithetical to what MMOs and old internet experiences were.

Kind of related to why insects hated Breath of the Wild. "There's nothing on the mountain." You ask about this and they want a Farcry6 skill token and another slot in their manpurse for the trouble. If you're white you just want to try climbing the mountain.
Heart 
#3
(12-22-2022, 12:43 AM)anthony Wrote: (...)

Very good points and a strong segue into one of the main features of any MMO-type game: their emphasis on having a changing set of "content". 

On one hand the model seems virtually unsustainable due to inevitable bloat of content. This posed a problem for WoW as soon as the first expansion pack came out and became even more noticeable over time. At the same time the game did maintain integrity up until midway through Wrath of the Lich King, and there is an effect of any contemporaneous body of work to need to find its "groove" so to speak and this was certainly the case here as well. There's some good to be gained, then but peces of media or art end being strongly defined by the process of creating them...from the perspective of developers, the game ends up being a treadmill of new content they have to create that satisfies enough of the old players, sells the game to new ones, and also fits thematically with the rest of the things in the game (of course, WoW in the modern state has abandoned any sense of this years and years ago). This mindset basically takes over the entire game and everything that gets released ends up planned around this content-development grind cycle and it becomes a de-facto job, which is a familiar joke to any MMO player and a great sign that something has devolved into self-parody. 

One of the noticeable things about these games in their older and more dignified state is obtuse and retarded systems which usually get removed as the game devolves and becomes more hurp durp refined. I'm reluctant to single these out as factors for determining "soul" simply because that kind of logic leads people to think you can cargo-cult that kind of experience into existence by tweaking certain parameters. But the existence of stupid and strange stat effects and paasive abilities, useless and sub-optimal items, consumables with uses ranging from broken to completely pointless, indicates where the focus of the game is and that is on creating adventure. A good example of this that was decried a lot in WoW was the addition of "dungeon finder", a button that places you in a queue depending on your role and forms you a group automatically, and worse yet teleports you into the dungeon at the start once the group is formed. Prior to this the norm was having to walk to each location, and not only that but the old dungeons where designed to have areas leading up to their entrance filled with hostile enemies, uniqur setpieces and sometimes even rare-spawning minibosses of their own. First major casualty of the optimization process. 

From what I've heard one of these retarded raids from the last xpac involves the theme of the main evil guy having a shifting, incomprehensible lair! Thus the design incorporates randomly generated bits, it changes over time! Disgusting.
#4
(12-22-2022, 03:12 AM)a system is failing Wrote: One of the noticeable things about these games in their older and more dignified state is obtuse and retarded systems which usually get removed as the game devolves and becomes more hurp durp refined. I'm reluctant to single these out as factors for determining "soul" simply because that kind of logic leads people to think you can cargo-cult that kind of experience into existence by tweaking certain parameters. But the existence of stupid and strange stat effects and paasive abilities, useless and sub-optimal items, consumables with uses ranging from broken to completely pointless, indicates where the focus of the game is and that is on creating adventure.

This is one of the areas where peoples' attitude towards frontiers reveals itself quite plainly. The observable results in massively popular games are quite depressing.

I fucking love when video games are a chaotic mess of overlapping not entirely understood systems all working together and clashing with each other and so on. As you say, this is the spirit of adventure. Not knowing and being able to figure it out. Find the way or make one. Most people seem to hate this, but also love complex systems. What seems popular is the experience of being confronted with something complex, and then being able to look up how to carve a straight line through it. This isn't just how games are mechanically now, this is also how people treat the stories in FROM games. The people love Elden Ring, but it seems like the default approach is to treat the game's wikis, guide videos, and lore recaps like an extension of the game. Sekiro, which was actually a very straight forward piece of work which basically saves you the trouble and gives you all you get from these straight up, was not as popular.
#5
Four interesting case studies: Star Wars Galaxies, Second Life, Eve Online, Final Fantasy 14. I'll write about the first two for now, and save my analysis of the others for another time. World of Warcraft has been analyzed to death in many places, and it is not worth rehashing.

Star Wars Galaxies in its original incarnation was an extremely compelling game. It had fully player-developed cities, merchants, and vendors. Exploring always seemed worth your time. No two servers were the same. The gameplay and mechanics were turgid and underdeveloped, but it had a very devoted player community that truly gave the world life. It was also a fundamentally mysterious game where not all the mechanics were clear - Jedi were incredibly rare, and for quite a long time, the player base remained ignorant of how one could even become a Jedi. As such, there was a mass proliferation of fan theories, testing, and experimentation to try it out. Fan forums would pour over and analyze every single detail and scrap of text in the game, some went as far as trying to reverse-engineer the game to get insight. The mystery of it was extreme to the point that the first players who achieved Jedi status had no idea how they actually did it. As the developers rushed to accommodate player criticisms, the charm, and mystery of the world drained before it experienced a final inglorious death.

Second Life is worthy of a thread, and detailed anthropological analysis. At its heart, it became a sex MMO and a tool for profoundly lonely people to do erotic role-play. This is the conventional understanding of it, and it is partly true - but it misses the details. The scope of human creativity employed to set up a plausible environment for the role-play was mind-blowing. People constructed entire cities, corporations, and extensive alternative histories - wrote tens of thousands of pages worth of sci-fi and fantasy lore (some of surprisingly high quality) to contextualize everything. Role-playing events within patchwork cultures became sublimated to an ever-developing and expanding lore. There were NPCs in certain cities that had *hours* of pre-programmed dialogue trees written by players simply documenting the history of various wars and corporate intrigue necessary to make the setting plausible. People would create worlds where you could roleplay as a cyberpunk catgirl, and go on to write a few hundred pages on the history of the world's monetary policy and international relations. Another popular world was designed explicitly for people to RP as sexbots, and sold sexbot skins and 'AI units' coded in LSL complete with an exposed API and a hundred pages of documentation enabling the unit to actively be controlled and hacked during scenes.

Past the lore and past the autism that created it, the Second Life fanbase contained the most supremely mentally disturbed individuals to ever grace the internet. It was not uncommon to hear about real players having psychotic breakdowns because their catgirl e-GF (male) broke up with them. I personally knew of one guy that attempted to use rubber bands to castrate himself because his sadist Second Life boyfriend demanded it. The real & fucked up lives of these people always bled back into the game. Users ranged the gamut from low IQ fetishists to professors acting out power fantasies. Some of these individuals were so supremely compelling, that one could write an entire book documenting their psychotype and deviance and still not do them justice. I played for about a year and a half around 2011-2013, and spent most of that time talking to a rather accomplished molecular biology professor who was simultaneously a repressed a tranny, a furry, and an esoteric Hitlerist preoccupied with proto-indo-european linguistics. He was also the person who first introduced me to Unqualified Reservations and Nick Land. I knew of several others like him - differing wildly and radically in the details. All of them were desperate to remake their own reality and were finally empowered to do so in a virtual space that promised them absolute freedom.
#6
(12-22-2022, 01:52 PM)Zed Wrote: Second Life

I had a friend who got into Second Life after I introduced him to Blockland, which was a competitor game to Roblox that was more popular a long time ago. Blockland is noteworthy early internet territory especially the forums, the guy who runs kiwifarms now if I remember correctly was a prominent Blockland user and server host. This is a game with that same aspect of "extreme customizability", though it lacks most of the commitment and all of the role playing, but it always made sense to me why my friend went from one to the other, especially because he was very into modding / using the in game events system to its limits. I saw him play it once and that gave me a brief glimpse into the insanity that was Second Life...but as a kid and even now the obvious seediness of it made it totally unappealling. My friend's main motivation for playing it seemed to be griefing and trolling...not sure how long he lasted doing that or how much potential that had. 

Griefing is a whole topic in itself in this thread...much to say about that and I've done lots of this activity myself...I think as an extension of your comments too, Roblox is an interesting analog to 2nd life as the normified version of one of these kinds of games, possibly even including the sexual element for all I know...I don't know enough about it to comment though.
#7
I'll start off by throwing a BAM quote here, which I believe is extremely relevant.

Quote:I too looked down the long broad street, mostly empty except for some small groups of drunks, hookers, some revelers, in the distance there was great fountain in plaza lighted up on all sides. I don’t know why, maybe the calmness of the blessed aminos hit me but my gaze veered off to one of the apartment buildings on the side of the road. There was just one light turned on in the middle of building and my mind wandered to who lived there and what they were like, and then to how it would be if I was the boy or girl who lived there. Many times I’ve wished, not so much that I was someone else, nor that I was immortal, but that I could live many different lives simultaneously and not be limited to being only one thing. At such moments of mood where you’re both calm and at least feel free every detail of life becomes interesting, all takes the character of images from a peaceful dream that present themselves in turn and don’t move you one way or another, because you see through them. I wonder then at least as a zoological experiment what it would be like to be a Vietnamese girl, a nail shop owner, or even an obese Angolan middle-aged woman running a pedicure operation with pink walls…yes, no form of hueman life is beneath me at such moments. I’ve even had dreams that I was a door or a vase, free to observe—I imagine only the seeing, the satisfaction of curiosity, and not the thousands of cares that must affect these people who I want to inhabit. But most of all then, when to this love of curiosity is added some sudden burst of energy, I start to wonder about men like myself of around my age, and what it would be like to be them, what they think moment to moment, what pulls them this way and that. I feel then a great longing for them and also for myself, and think of the friendships that I could have had with them and the great tasks that could await.

— Bronze Age Mindset, p. 16-17

The entire passage resonates with me fairly well, because I have experienced such thoughts and conclusions many times, and the aforementioned sentiment that drives people to pretend to be someone else in a multiplayer video game. I have never "played" second life (which allegedly is not a "game" by definition), and I do not have intention to do so for many reasons that include the soullnessness and aesthetic poverty of it, but I am familiar with other mediums, which I shall not directly name here, that provide similar but much better quality opportunities. Personally I like to compare them to a tabletop game session, where you assume the role of a character defined by a few descriptive paragraphs and a pile of numbers and then interact with a fictional world through the eyes of that character; imagine that, but instead of a weekend get-together with friends it goes on 24/7, involves dozens of people who come and go at their leisure and add on to the story in greater or lesser degree; and sometimes it can also have a gamemaster-like figure who has a greater than others possibility to manipulate the setting. In the majority of cases the erotic roleplay is either nonexistent or a small part of it, relegated to simulating the bond created between individuals in life and in history.

The sine qua non condition that makes an experience like that substantial is to forswear voice communication in favor of text, which also implies a reasonable proficiency and skill with prose; the latter is both easier and more prevalent than a sufficient voice-acting skill required to make the endeavor not appear ridiculous to most. The written word also conveys the imagined emotions and thoughts of the character than the player's voice ever could.

Quote:The real & fucked up lives of these people always bled back into the game. Users ranged the gamut from low IQ fetishists to professors acting out power fantasies. Some of these individuals were so supremely compelling, that one could write an entire book documenting their psychotype and deviance and still not do them justice. I played for about a year and a half around 2011-2013, and spent most of that time talking to a rather accomplished molecular biology professor

The aforementioned gamut runs in the entire gaming 'subculture'; point me to any genre, or any medium at all, that does not have a diaspora of trannies and adjacent true-believers. Mentally ill people are everywhere and they always bring about problems, but from personal experience, the complete fuck-ups are an exception rather than a rule, and they're usually promptly dealt with. The low-IQ retards, the pseudo-macho and bimbo types you can see mocked in SL griefing videos on jewtube, and other types, usually find their own niche and stay there when the other groups reject them or refuse to cater to their particularly crude interests.

My point on the subject we're discussing in here is that, in my view, the desire to partake in this sort of hobby is not brought about by loneliness, but by a feeling the internet refers to as 'onism' and 'occhiolism' - the regret of being just one person, and the awareness of how narrow one's perspective on the world is; and the desire to scratch these obscure itches. I would not be surprised if there are professional actors who are motivated by similar feelings as well and that it drives them to excellence in their craft.
#8
(01-01-2023, 02:04 PM)Guest Wrote: ...onism...

Quote:“We have in fact only two certainties in this world—that we are not everything and that we will die. To be conscious of not being everything, as one is of being mortal, is nothing. But if we are without a narcotic, an unbreathable void reveals itself. I wanted to be everything, so that falling into this void, I might summon my courage and say to myself: “I am ashamed of having wanted to be everything, for I see now that it was to sleep.” From that moment begins a singular experience. The mind moves in a strange world where anguish and ecstasy coexist.

Quote:“A man who finds himself among others is irritated because he does not know why he is not one of the others.

In bed next to a girl he loves, he forgets that he does not know why he is himself instead of the body he touches.

Without knowing it, he suffers from the mental darkness that keeps him from screaming that he himself is the girl who forgets his presence while shuddering in his arms.”

Both Bataille.

I don't really have much to add otherwise. I also related heavily to the same quote in BAM, and I've found myself constantly living with a similar weight to the one described. There is something deeply enchanting about roleplaying - and the sacred (in my view) act of creating a story together with one another person/group of friends - the collective synthesis and resonance between ideas is itself a deep and powerful mode of connection.

The same line of thoughts typically drags me back to oriental notions of enlightenment, though a discussion of that would go too far afield from a thread on MMOs.
#9
Quote: There is something deeply enchanting about roleplaying - and the sacred (in my view) act of creating a story together with one another person/group of friends - the collective synthesis and resonance between ideas is itself a deep and powerful mode of connection.

While I wouldn't have called it 'sacred' by any meaning of the term, it is definitely enchanting and entrancing, sometimes to the point of being as addicting as one usually thinks MMO's are in their regular form of gameplay. Yet in opposite, it's much more niche and definitely more personal (thus unique compared to the 'fast-food' aspect of MMO gameplay). Perhaps these are the reasons why the certain people mentioned in the previous posts cannot differentiate between their in-game actions and their real life, which often has desultory effects.
#10
I think what's being described here fits perfectly with the larger "Amarnasphere"'s affinity for dialogue tweets. The fundamentals of humor to me is being able to replicate a person/abstraction and incorporate it into a larger "canon".
#11
(01-04-2023, 02:47 AM)chungus Wrote: I think what's being described here fits perfectly with the larger "Amarnasphere"'s affinity for dialogue tweets. The fundamentals of humor to me is being able to replicate a person/abstraction and incorporate it into a larger "canon".

I like this better. I can't say I sympathize with or understand the desire to be more than one person or live more than one life. What I get satisfaction from is the existence of these virtual or abstracted elements, that exist in an environment where they interact with each other, and how you have agency in how they are combined and what the sum total of their parts may look like. I have never understood roleplaying or had the mentality to do so, because it isn't among these elements. When people RP'd in these games, I could never get past the fact people discussed things they never did and elements that never existed in game. It feels like a distraction from the game world that is actually there, which is what you are really supposed to be experiencing. That's a lot more like dialogues, where you can't just make up whatever you want, there are rules and most importantly there are combinations and possibilities that objectively work and ones thst objectively don't work. In a sense the combining of elements with their own self contained logic for the purpose of creating various effects is an artistic endeavor, and this is the enjoyment I get from the "RPG" side of "MMORPG", it's related to the joy of creating things. The MMO side of the equation heightens this experience by allowing interference of others, which is somewhat of a virtue for me, it's good when other people have the ability to fuck with you or take things from you or make you fail your mission in virtual experiences, because it adds a necessary point of tension. That's a whole 'nother topic in itself.


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