They call me MISTER Poppet!

Wotcha everyone,

Yes, it’s another part of my ongoing random musing about names.  Particularly on Role-Playing servers, seeing as that is my server type of choice, and at the moment, I’m musing about second names.  Surnames.  This one’s particularly rambly, so you might want to get a brew in and relax.  And enjoy the journey.  Sorry.

So, here I am at level 20.  I get me a horse and a surname.  It’s almost like a coming of age ceremony, similar to your first legal beer, or your provisional driving license.  Just with less fanfare from your parents.

And seeing as I was in Altdorf sorting horse (no, I haven’t named it.  I make it a policy never to name something I might one day eat.  And there’s good eating on a horse) and surname, I decided to do my bit for Altdorf, and finish off some of the quests sitting in my Tome of Knowledge.  No, it wasn’t about clearing some space in there, and it wasn’t about getting some easy cash and quest xp.  No.  Honest.

Booting down doors, taking names.  Investigating corpses floating in rivers, and generally being seconded to the Altdorf Rozzers.  Quite fun, really.  And within I few minutes, I’ve got the line; “They call me MISTER Poppet!” running around in the Movie-In-My-Head(tm).  Lots of fun, really, and as mentioned earlier, the side effect of helping Altdorf out left me with a warm feeling in my tummy.

It was only later that I started checking out other people’s surnames.  Sometimes things are just going too quickly to take note of *any* names, never mind two for the same set of pixels that I’m chasing around a battlefield.  And I’m visually lazy.  I spend a lot of time at work having to be very accurate about what I’m reading, so on my own time I slack.

But every so often, a name registers in my subconscious, and batters through the wall to my… umm… very conscious.  Sometimes it’s a really nice name, one that makes me immediately hate the owner for having a better imagination than me.  Hates them!  Really hates them!  Whilst congratulating them!  And others, I read a name that makes me wince.  Anyone that thinks the name “Shadowbladedeathdancer” is ok for a name, or even worse chose it because “It’s cool” deserves to have their internet rights removed.  I apologise if there actually is a “Shadowbladedeathdancer” out there.  It’s a name I chose at random, and I wasn’t singling you out for scorn.  Even if you deserve it, for having a name like that.  It’s not cool.  It’s not a name.  It’s words stuck together!

In between the two extremes we get the “comedy” names.  Sometimes it’s an innocuous enough name, whose comedy is only released at level 20 with the addition of the surname.  Sometimes not.  Either way, the question of whether or not comedy names are acceptable is not something that will be resolved in this rambling pondering; I first encountered the “issue” of comedy names in a forum post shortly after I started playing Everquest.  It’s going to be going for a long, long while.

The issue here is that, just like World of Warcraft, comedy is a part of the world.  And therefore, part of the lore.  So when the self-appointed Lore-Police start screaming about names, and comedy names at that, they don’t have a leg to stand on.  When the NPCs have comedy names, how can reporting comedy player character names be enforced.  It gets worse; the original Intellectual Property evolved over many years, and there are scary amounts of incidental and obvious humour;  One of the early army lists for 1st edition was called “The Insane Conjurations of the Necromancer Colin”, or some such.  And one of the 2nd edition Regiments of Renown, whose name I cannot remember despite getting all het up about it, was a regiment of sea-elves tasked with guarding ports.  Their usual challenge (in Elven, of course) was “Elo cailor, gotda leit?”  Even when I first read it, I groaned.  [I await anyone who has the original information who can correct my shoddy failing memory.  I was about 15 when I first encountered Warhammer, so it’s been a while since I have seen the original.  If you could correct it, well done.  Not only do you get 25 Hawley-points, but you’ll be making the inner child in me happy for getting some of it’s history back accurately.]

No, you don’t need to ask me, I will happily volunteer the information:  Yes, I am considering starting to greet Elves with that phrase in game.  It’s part of the lore, after all…  I just need the correction/confirmation to arrive, and I’m away.

So when the self-appointed Lore-Police report your comedy name, do you get to report the Van-Rentls of Marienburg for their comedy name?  Yes, another old piece of the world, there.

And I suppose the other question is this;  Do game designers get a “Get out of jail, free” card from what some people might refer to as the “Lore-Wielding Assassins of Joy”?  No, I don’t use that term.  Never.  But the point is that we don’t get to even comment on NPC names, so why do they get to change ours?

Personally, I hate to see an obvious gag name.  With a passion.  But I understand that they are a part of the world, so I turn a blind eye.  Of course, that blind eye means I won’t be healing them and won’t be helping them.  Swings and roundabouts, really.  With a comedy name, you need to be able to duck and weave…  But I respect them enough to not start reaching for the “report” button whenever someone with a comedy name batters me into the ground.  Again.

Cheers,
Hawley.

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Life in the RP Lane

We decided one of the ways to give you all a glimpse into the Roleplay server was to keep some anecdotes of RP episodes we’d enjoyed. Not giving conversations, but moments when we realised we were very happy with our server choice. So, here’s a few quick clips into life on the Roleplay server.


Today I had my first roleplaying encounter in game. I was up early and was polishing off a quest that needed me to kill some NPC witch elves in a Public Quest area. I saw another Archmage there too, so we teamed up. And when she joined the group, she greeted me with, “Hello, sister.” (No, it wasn’t Arbitrary.) We had a brief in character (IC) chat and then got on with the business of killing witch elves. It was going well so we went on to duo the second stage of that PQ before parting ways.

Fortunately it’s easy to RP a High Elf. Just be vaguely polite to other HElves, vaguely snotty to everyone else (to some of us this comes naturally), and no one minds if you use cheesy fantasy expressions and say ‘Aye’ instead of yes.


A couple of us hardy dwarf lasses were out fighting in Mount Bloodhorn, slaying Dog Soldiers left and right while scavenging their corpses and butchering their hounds. We were staying fairly in-character, except for me noting on guild chat that we looked like a pair of mini-Valkyries. But we did.

Along came a lone male dwarf a couple of ranks lower than us. He was bravely slaying bandits on his own, so with a hearty ‘hello’, we invited him to join in and participated in a little Dwarf Roleplay, mostly to do with death, destruction, gold and beer. I enjoyed it. It was just enough for me to feel part of the setting, but it didn’t stunt my ability to say I didn’t think we could do stage 2 of the PQ we were in. In fact, I just didn’t say it. And we got very very close to doing the stage!


Another time, a group from the guild decided to tackle some Public Quests in Troll Country and we quickly got together a group to do so. As we started slaying the undead with great righteousness, we spotted another group. They hailed us in Sigmar’s name, and we quickly slipped into roleplay mode, from our usual chit-chat in-party. After rather easily completing the quest, the other group suggested we merge and go attack the local Destruction-held Keep. All in roleplay terms. In fact, just when a couple of us were asking privately how to describe some aspect in a roleplay way, one of the other group would manage it perfectly. Phrases that will stick in my mind for the next time I want to inject some in-character-ness to my RvR.

Links-a-matosis

Want to start writing about Warhammer? If so, Regis from Wizards and Wenches is running a blog competition you should check out.

Hammer of WAR is a new community site, set up by husband and wife team and looking to establish itself through some interesting columns and a set of forums. JoBildo has said he’s going to be a columnist so it’s definitely worth watching.

Also new to the community is Forums of WAR, a dedicated series of server forums. Obviously it’s a bit quiet so far!

And check out WAAAGH! Hammer also, a very professional looking blog.

Stuck for a name? Here’s a pretty cool resource for Warhammer Fantasy RP names.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun return to their series of conversations with Paul Barnett. This time it covers his top 5 MMOs – which aren’t  MMOs and they discuss more than 5 games, but he likes Elite so it’s cool with us.  (Spinks: Did I ever mention that I got to Elite on the Atari ST version?) Also at the same site, you can watch 3 trailers for Deathspank. Go – watch them.

Scientific American discusses why people like stories in The Secrets of Storytelling. It’s not something you necessarily expect a scientific magazine to come out with, but it’s fascinating stuff.

The latest guild highlight looks at the taverns provided and includes lots of useful info I never tried to explore in the beta – such as where you can fly to from the tavern and what you can buy at reduced price. The EU guild in the spotlight this time is Unleashed. The US featured guild is even more hardcore.

Over at The Consumerist, there’s a cautionary tale about trying to change your postal address on a Collector’s Edition pre-order. Apparently EA do not make this simple, or even possible. NB: this is a US story.

Obviously, there’s been a lot about PAX in the interwebs this past week, but the panel I enjoyed reading about most was How to get your Girlfriend into Gaming. Maybe you could do like Bernie Ping and hack her favourite game so it proposes to her (arbitrary: seriously, I love Bejeweled so I’m impressed!)

On Warhammer-related PAX news, stop by Jeff’s Ten Ton Hammer blog and read all the Q&As cos they’re really informative and definitely added to the whole thing.

Waaagh: the Podcast has a home over at GAX and is available on iTunes. Episode 2 includes a long chat with Brent from Virgin Worlds about his recent Warhammer Online comments. Really enjoyed it. And talking of podcasts No Prisoners, No Mercy has a special Warhammer Online broadcast out and Shut Up, We’re Talking does a pretty nice overview of the game also.

In other news, if you’ve been wondering where all the local cats and mice have been recently, it’s probably because they’ve also been gearing up for the relase of Warhammer Online, with some pretty tasty epics…

What’s in a name?

Wotcha everyone,

We’re getting closer and closer to that magical time when we get to create all new characters for a fresh-out-of-the-box online game server.  And in between brews I had a bit of a ponder about what to call my characters.

In real life, we rarely get to name ourselves.  We’re born, and our parents name us.  And with a few exceptions, most of the people I know have kept those names.  Then the interwebnet came along, and thanks to email addresses and forums, we got the opportunity to call ourselves something different, if we chose.  Then online gaming gave us the opportunity to name ourselves as many times as we fancied (unless it was Star Wars Galaxies, where you just got the one opportunity).

Now, I’m no fan of the “comedy” name.  Sometimes I suffer from chronic sense of humour failures, and “comedy” names are one of the best ways to bring them on.  It’s one of the reasons I much prefer Role-Playing servers over the normal variety.  Being able to wander around and not see “Ownzjoo” on his latest killing spree, or “Legololz” bunny-hopping through a raid is surprisingly good for my karmic balance.

It’s not that I’m precious about my gaming, it’s just that naff names ruin my immersion.  So there.  Well, I am precious about my gaming, but not about names.  Honestly, it is the immersion thing.

So, here I am, thinking about names.  I remember once, with Icewind Dale, getting through four characters’ names successfully, before finding myself completely mentally lacking in the name department for a druid.  Casting about the room for inspiration, my eye falls upon a can of fizzily orange drink, and thus Tango the Druid was born.  I wasn’t proud of myself.  And I still had a sixth character to name…

It was at that point that I decided I really needed to sort some names out, for my own sanity, if for no-one else.  Tango could continue his druidic existence in an offline game, but online games get “proper” names.  Other people are going to see them, after all.  So the last thing I want is to have someone see the name that *I chose* and think; “Idiot” (seeing as this is a public blog, I shouldn’t use the term I would normally use.  It’s one of my favourite rude-word-based insults, though.  See if you can guess what it is).  And the interwebnet came to my rescue.  An absurdly fast search found me a site with some Victorian and Edwardian names on it, and thus my naming problems were at an end.

But here’s where the musing hits sticky ground.  When I start a new game, should I keep a name I’ve used before, or should I go for something new?  Without intending to, “Hawley” seems to have become a name for my healers.  It just happened that way.  It’s been used in three separate games now, and I’m wondering if I should continue to use it.

The part of me that wants to be imaginative, and creative, and other things that make me sound all coolly bohemian and end in -ive rebels at “just” using the same old name.  But having said that, I’m growing into the name.  It’s comfortable, like a well-worn pair of slippers.  Or a favoured t-shirt.  Or the jumper you always go to when it’s cold and raining.

I suppose it also helps when moving from one game to another.  Old friends and rivals can see that name, and wonder if it’s you.

Is “Hawley” a Warhammer Online name?  Does it have a certain Empire cachet to it?  Or does it just make my bum look fat?  I shall probably be pondering this until release day, and it’s time to finish off my character by putting in a name, and clicking on “Play”.

But then the fear starts.  What if someone “takes” the name.  Hey, I’m not in the pre-release.  I haven’t got a shiny Collector’s Edition waiting for me, so that leaves me dangling until launch day (plus the time it takes to download the release patch), and it’s not even like I can copyright my favourite names!

Ah well, looks like fate will decide…

Cheers,
Hawley.