A week or so more, it would be almost 2 months since I stepped into the precarious text world of HOTL3. I woke up this morning and felt a strong urge to pen my reflections about my gaming experience with HOTL3. Reflections being reflections, are not meant to entertain or hurt though it usually will, if it is done the way it should be - honestly.
I believe most players who interact with me in the game would agree I have a strong interest in the game thus far. I have been playing the game (a lot), actively coming up with suggestions (bad or otherwise), helping and getting helped by others regularly. Some may even describe me as a passionate player. If there is passion, I feel it comes from not just the game itself but the fascination of the rich history of the game. When I say history, I meant the ex-players, the crooks and the legends. Without incredible players, any game (however good) is just a few bytes of data, dead and cold without life. So there I was, absorbing any great tales any old players would stop and share. There was 'that bastard Cyrano' who killed mindlessly (and PKed me!). There was this living legend Uglyduckling who completed all his quests in Gen 1. Kaori the Obsessed, who got himself to Gen 30, enough said. Etc. Etc. I never grew tired of legendary folklore. Unfortunately, you will not hear of old players gushing about how a particular IMPlementor coding an entire area in 1 day and stuff like that. Legendary tales are about players and always will be so. If you think about it, that's the way things are in many aspects of life too. The star lead singer or the star striker will usually get more limelight than his band and team respectively.
That led me to wonder if we understand this basic principle. However great a game is, the players, the community defines the true greatness. Thor probably (hopefully) understands the fact and shared with me his ambition of tripling regular players in the game. To do so, he felt a compelling need to complete a new tutorial for newbies before he sends his invitation to his huge mailing list. Regarding the tutorial, I have been roped in to test out the tutorial. In my opinion, it wasn't going too well and Thor must know that, judging from his clear frustrations last evening, which I felt he vented some on me. He was unhappy with the way I did my test plans. Truth to be told, I felt I was unfairly treated. None of the bugs we encountered in the last test was new. I have been actively noting them down in our shared chat but it seems that no one bothers to read or address them. True enough, when Celine was roped in to test the tutorial and went through it 'stage by stage', he/she found nothing wrong and pronounced the tutorial 'a go.' From my testing point of view, the tutorial remains broken. However, I don't need anymore hints that I am regarded as someone who is playing the fool in my testings and I decide I shall take part no more in this. After I moved to Perth from Singapore, I came to realise and adopt one important principle in my life that makes me a much happier person - I don't work with angry people. In any case, without me, these unsavory bugs wouldn't surface, since I get the impression none of the earlier testers seem to have pointed them out. The future testers shall make the testing work less frustrating.
Having said that, I am not out of the game - yet. I'll come to that later. At the moment, I will still be contributing by updating stuff on this blog such as the Hint Area Specialise Books project and other useful information such as the latest Pet Shop navigation guide. I told Az, who is currently updating the official website, to lift any information he find useful from me. As for suggestions or ideas, Thor told me he was focusing on nothing except the tutorial. Oddly enough, for my short 2 months stay here, I've experienced multiple changes to the AP system, a complete nerf to my money-running method (which I believe I'm the only one doing so recently) by making the entire Keep of Mahntor anti-transportation and I also just found that unlike previously, I am unable to gain anymore gold after 100 million gold. (the number just froze.) Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to tell someone how to arrange furniture in his own house. The key fact remains that I am a guest and I know exactly where I stand. That shouldn't restrict me from sharing the irony though, for a lighthearted laugh.
Like I shared in the beginning of this blog, I'm a newbie in HOTL3, but I'm a veteran in gaming. I have been there, done that as much as any players in HOTL3 - just that I did it elsewhere. There isn't anything that will really surprise me. I've seen games rising to greatness and falling to dust. I've participated in close knitted gaming communities. Stepping away from a game one day is inevitable. The officials and community define the length. That's all. They decide the demographics of the players they want to keep and alienate.
I couldn't help but be amused each time someone give me comments such as, 'Wah, Dragonspawn so fast!' They were referring to how fast I progressed in the game. I respectively beg to differ. The last time I checked, I have chalked by more than 50% of the time logged in held by the 'No-lifer' record holder Pris in less than 2 months. With that kind of hours, doesn't it seem natural my toon will progress the way it is? From my observations, players who joined the game around the same time as me, such as Eken, has at least 3 toons higher than Gen 2 by now. That adds up to about 6-7 Gens easily, about the same as my only significant character in the game. Kregar, a player that recently joined, got two toons to level 50 in 2 weeks. I believe there is no real need to make any changes to the game to 'slow down players' because we may be under an illusion that is due to the imbalance of the game, masking the fact some players are just more obsessed than the others. For one, I will still be among the richest players in the game as long as I play because of a simple fact - I run and most others don't. I have to agree with Az on this - If it ain't broken, don't fix it. There are surely more things worthy of attention, such as a tutorial.
Or is it?
If you ask me as a 2 month old not-so-newbie, what will a good tutorial do for me when I first join the game? Before I answer this question, I will like to share that there was a player who joined the game almost at the same time as me. He chose a Titan as his race and he was obviously struggling like me trying to figure how the heck this game works. He did not advance beyond level 2 and I have not seen him since. If I may make a wild guess, that is a scenario Thor hopes to avoid when he open the floodgates to the expected influx of newbies. But if you think about it, for the Titan who quit at level 2, there is another Dragonspawn who advanced to Gen 6 and is still playing today. What is a possible reason behind this and will the tutorial change this? Of course, I don't have an answer for that. On my personal note, I wouldn't have stayed in the game for long if Thor did not teleport to me and chatted me up, pumped me up with some newbie EQ and enchanted my Dagger of Intellect which I still fondly kept with me till now. I wouldn't have advanced so far after he weened me off without ridiculously helpful players from my clan or the rival clan alike. I would have strayed mindlessly in Gen1 and quit the game eventually if Cee didn't offer to fuse me to let me have a taste when E1 skills actually meant. From time to time, I learnt new things from players who taught me intriguing things about the game, such as hunting for Specialise Books, which I eventually include in my daily routine. With due respect to the smashing new tutorial to come, these players offered me much more beyond at a profound level. Personally, I concluded that is what made me stay, along with the play-ability of the game. (for now). I believe if we want a HOTL3 population to flourish, we should garner the existing players together to pay attention to new players. The tutorial is a good tool, but not the key. Already, I've seen the population almost doubling from the time I started out even without the tutorial launched. I believed how I 'cared' for Goran and Groot makes a bit of difference just like what Thor did for me.
And that will probably work wonders for the future Glint, Devona or Patsy.