When once the forms of civility are violated, there remains little hope of return to kindness or decency.ddo, melmoth, mmo November 9th, 2009
“Well you could do that, but nobody will want to group with you.” A phrase wrapped in wilful condescension so thick that if you spread some patronization between a couple of slices of it you’d have the world’s most bitter doorstop sandwich. Welcome to DDO’s General chat channel, a land where the nose evolved only as an extension of the face to be looked down, and the horses are so very high. I try to picture meeting some of the more vocal personages who frequent this place and I can only really come up with a sort of hybrid creature formed from the unnatural union of Medusa and Charybdis – giant mouths that spit a whirling torrent of venomous snakes.
Let’s face it, DDO is hardly unique in having chat channels filled with bilious supremacist outpourings; whether it concerns how to spec. a character, how to make gold, or any other number of arbitrary numeral demarcations, where the supremacist can put data into a spreadsheet and show categorically that they are better than those who don’t do it their way, that they do 0.1% more DPS, that they make 5% more gold per hour, every MMO has their class of players who think that they are above and beyond the plebeians who don’t play the game the way that they do.
It’s just that DDO has had thirty five or so years and four editions of the pen and paper game to really hone their hive of supercilious bees, who swarm out and attack with stinging words anything that doesn’t belong to their colony. People who commit the heinous cardinal sin of attempting to multiclass a healer, for example.
Turbine have created templates for classes in DDO, initially I viewed these as a sensible aid to new players unfamiliar with the game’s D20 hybrid rule set, to prevent them creating a properly broken character while they get to grips with the game. What I then suspected was that these templates were actually an attempt to give new players at least a modicum of a sane character build in order to prevent DDO’s most special community members from driving away these potential customers, such that the new players would merely be looked down upon as pitiable peasants by the DDO Maxminati. My current theory, however, is that the templates actually act as a warning, they say “Look, even these templates, created by the developers of the game, are open to scorn and derision by our community. And don’t even bother to see what the forum dwellers think of them, lest you have to poke out your own eyes to stop the searing spite of their words from branding itself on your mind.” and so new players realise in short order that the prejudice, dullness, and spite is not directed solely at them, but at all beings who don’t fit with the supremacist’s ideals.
So, another MMO, another General channel quickly partitioned off into its own tab titled “Wrath”, along with the Trade channel under “Greed” and the LFG channel under “Sloth”. And yet people still ponder on the ‘mystery’ of the prevalence of the soloer in MMOs.
I do wonder if the community of Darkfall is any better; my natural instinct tells me that it would be at least as bad – it seems that only rarely can you have an MMO and not have a general community full of hate and spite, for they are formed of humans, and this is what humans do better than any other creature on Earth – yet there is the glimmer of hope in me that some level of formal politeness exists in a game where anyone you offend can join with his friends to hunt you down and put an axe through your skull.
It goes without saying that I’ve now created my experimental Cleric in DDO: with maxed Intellect and using Wisdom as the dump stat, they are armed with a crossbow and have the very best in the Search, Pick Lock and Disarm Trap cross-class skills. The experiment is not as to whether the character will work, but whether it is repellent enough to DDO’s master race to act much as a holy symbol acts upon a vampire; my theory is that I will hold up this symbol of singular silliness before them and they will shrink away at the horror that it represents and, if they fail their Will save, burst into flames and be purged.