Daily Archives: November 17, 2008

Thought for the day.

Even if the picture doesn’t show a TV or that the person is holding a Wiimote, you can always tell if someone in a group photo is playing on a Wii, because they’re always posed in ‘that way’: standing up, arms limp at their sides, with a slightly lost and embarrassed look on their face as they stare blankly into space.

With the rest of the group all sat around, looking at the person standing up as though they’re the biggest cretin the world has ever seen.

In a consumer society there are inevitably two kinds of slaves: the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy.

I’m in a relatively small guild in World of Warcraft, it’s one of those guilds that was around at the birth of the server but has dwindled in numbers as people left for other guilds, or servers, or MMOs. I’ve stuck with the same server and the same faction since day one, and it’s fun to be a part of a guild that has always been there too.

However, the downside of being a part of such a guild is that most of the members are hardcore WoWnuts, with multiple alts, and who are always online no matter when I happen to get a spare moment to myself to log in. As such I find myself watching as a large portion of the regular guild members are tackling the content that is half way to the level cap whilst I languish behind, having barely scraped the surface of the starter areas. I watch as the freshly minted Death Knights of the guild blast past me faster than you can say “Unholy Undead Overpoweredness, Batman!”, and then find myself being lapped by the regular guild members as they take their alts into content I’ve yet to experience.

‘Find myself being lapped’. I often say that to myself, “Ooop, there goes so and so on their alt, lapping me again”, as if it’s some sort of race.

And I have to ask, what the hell is wrong with us? Where did this obsession begin, that every MMO release should be an excuse for a Tasmanian-Devil-like whirlwind devouring of content, in the most destructive and indiscriminate manner, in a mad desperate rush to get to the level cap and… and what? In the main: complain about the lack of content.

You may apply your palm to your face now, or wait until later. I shall apply mine now.

And so I find that I’m having to constantly tell myself to not get despondent when I appear to be behind the curve with respect to levels, not to be envious that other players have great gear and have experienced new zones ages before I ever will, just because I happen to be taking time to explore places and read the quest text and stop to admire the view; I have to tell myself that I’m not losing, being lapped or under performing, and that I don’t need to speed up my questing, hurry on to the next zone, grab the next bag of XP, get to the next level.

You see what I realised is that, essentially, for a few short days after the release of any MMO expansion, the raiders are among us. There really should be something printed on the expansion box “Warning: Upon entering the world, normal players may experience brief waves of turbulent raiders. This may cause bouts of inferiority complex, envy, disorientation and nausea, but will soon pass”. So yes, for a few brief days, one gets to live and learn what it is to exist in a raid cloud, where everything is about performance, being the best, and more importantly, being better than the next player. It’s all about loot linking, calling out each level ‘ding’, each half level ‘ding’, each single XP gain. It’s about mocking other players for a) Not knowing where Scourged Flamespitters are, and b) Still needing to do a quest that all the cool kids did five seconds after the WotLK authentication server was up.

Thankfully the speed at which the raid cloud levels is such that, given a few more days, they will all be bashing their heads against the latest perfunctory phat lewt dispenser disguised as game-play, and those of us left in their wake can spend time leveling slowly and quietly in peace, uprighting fences, helping NPCs up from the ground where they were trampled, and picking up the discarded burger wrappers, drinks cartons and other detritus from the carefully crafted landscape that was two years in the making and two days in the consuming.

Reviewlet: TMWRNJ Reunion

Last night I headed for the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith with PJ and the only other 548 people in the world who’d ever heard of This Morning With Richard Not Judy. Or 547, one person did shout out when Richard Herring asked if there was anyone who’d never seen the programme. Maybe 546, someone we overheard on the stairs during the interval didn’t seem very sure who Stewart Lee was, though it could’ve been the same person who shouted earlier. Anyway. It was a late 90s comedy series, and several of the participants were back together at one of Richard Herring’s comedy nights at the Lyric.

The evening started with Trevor Lock, he of Trevor and Natalie, they of being easy on the eye, who never spoke on the programme but fortunately didn’t reprise that role, instead delivering an odd set, a bit like a downbeat early-era Harry Hill, barely pausing, chucking weird images out and rapidly morphing them in even weirder directions. Few jokes as such, but a constant stream of quite-funny-ness.

Stewart Lee was up next, a total contrast in style, masterful, calculated pacing, timing and delivery even with a creeping flesh disease. An absolute great.

After the interval, host Richard Herring took the t-shirt slogan “Give Me Head ‘Til I’m Dead” to it’s logical conclusion, then a long way past, in luridly Herring-esque detail, before demonstrating his superpower (as he pointed out, easily enough to earn him a place in the third series of Heroes) of having small hands, and outlining how he’d use such a power for good. They are small hands too, you have to wonder if it hampers his Guitar Hero playing.

Speaking of guitars, following Herring was TV’s Emma Kennedy with her band, performing funked-up kids TV themes with dance accompaniment from a red-lycra clad gimp/ninja, concluding with a contractually obliged spot-on rendition of the TMWRNJ theme tune leading into what much of the audience had been waiting for, a brief Lee and Herring reunion.

Maybe it was driven by a wave of misplaced nostalgia, but even after seeing the original routines, and the Tedstock versions on YouTube, the two of them are brilliant together, and just as things seemed to have reached a moon on a stick-based peak, Paul Putner’s Curious Orange emerged, resplendent in full Davros regalia, for a truly magnificent finish.

The only minor disappointment was the lack of The Actor Kevin Eldon, he of Simon Quinlank, Rod Hull and Pause for Thought for the Day, and it would’ve been lovely to see everyone on stage together, maybe doing Sunday Heroes (ahhh!), but that’s being terribly churlish, it was always made clear everyone would be doing their own material. A fantastic night, roll on the next ten years, apart from the inevitable and massively depressing ageing it brings…

(Addendum: Richard Herring’s write-up is, weirdly, much better, almost like it was written by someone who was actually involved.)