MMO Blog Alliance 2009 Charity Drive

The holidays are almost upon us again and this year the MMO Blogging Alliance wants to help ensure a good season for all! We’ve decide to pull together and encourage our readers to donate to those less fortunate. It has been a tough year for many families across the world and a little boost can go a long way. Please consider donating to one of the many charities that we recommend or one you select on your own. If you’re a blogger and would like to participate in our drive it is as easy as writing a post, including this at the top, linking to the other posts, and picking a charity to donate to. Let’s show everyone that in 2009 the MMO community can make a positive difference in the world!

Kids studying in bad housing

Many gamers in 2009 followed the poignant tale of Alice and Kev, the Sims 3 homeless father and daughter, which showed all too clearly the issues that homeless people face, and the barriers that prevent them from getting back on their feet.

The charity I’ve picked to support this year is Shelter,  a UK based charity  that works to alleviate the distress caused by homelessness and poor housing.

The charity’s mission is to help anyone in need of housing to access and keep a home, by offering free advice on anything from trouble with the landlord to handling mortgage arrears or finding a place to sleep. This year, hundreds of thousands more families are struggling to keep up with the rent or mortgage payments due to the credit crunch. Many more people currently keeping their heads above water are only one or two missed paycheques away from the specture of repossession.

Charities like Shelter operate throughout the world, trying to help people to help themselves: Robin Burkinshaw at Alice and Kev has listed a lot of them here, perhaps one operates near you.

Click here to donate to Shelter.

If you’re interested in volunteering over the Christmas period in the UK, Crisis is another homeless charity which offers Christmas Centres for the homeless, where they can find company, a hot meal, and a wide range of other essential services — they need a lot of volunteers and it’s fun and rewarding work, which was my first experience of volunteering. Again, wherever you are, there are likely to be similar organisations, charities and hospitals which have use for volunteers over Christmas if you prefer to give time rather than money. (If you’re alone at Christmas and feeling down, it’s better than sitting at home feeling sorry for yourself.)

If you’d like to donate to multiple charities or a different one, why not check out these posts by the other MBA Charity Drive members (links might not be active until later on today):

Epic Slant

Stylish Corpse

Psychochild

Multiplaying

Nerf the Cat

Stabbed Up

Bio Break

Echoes of Nonsense

Shared Topic: A few of my favourite things

I was all fired up to write about my love of Howling Fjord last week, and I wondered if other bloggers might also find it fun to write about their favourite quests and zones. (Plus, to be honest, I was curious to see what they had to say, and maybe get a lead on cool stuff that I have missed!)

So I suggested it as a shared topic on Blog Azeroth (which is a cool community for WoW bloggers). The Twisted Nether crew (who sponsor the shared topic) picked my topic this week!! And three other people took up the challenge:

Tales of an Aggronaut writes about his love of Westfall and the Deadmines.

Adventures of a Priest discusses the Alliance Onyxia key chain, and compares how hard it used to be back in the day. (LFM Jailbreak.)

Destructive Reach actually makes me sympathise with the Alliance a bit … hm, my resolve to run through Wrath on an Alliance character is wavering.

edited to add:

Aeltyr posts at AndTwoRogues about the Cipher of Damnation questline in Outland

In which I get probed

So I’ve been tagged by Regis and by Arbitrary for a 10 question meme that was kicked off by Jennifer@Girl IRL.

As Jennifer wisely notes:

And what is a meme if not good filler material?

But that’s not actually why I decided to press on with it (I do actually have posts lined up for the rest of the week this time ;) ). I like these questions, I think I can answer them in a way that might be interesting to read,  and I like  to see how the answers reflect my changing playing style/s.

1.  What is your current main character’s name (or names, if you play multiple games)?  Explain how you chose the name.

My warrior is called Mrs Spinks. I don’t know if I ever really figured out what her first name was. I don’t remember entirely how I picked it but we were sitting around during the WoW beta discussing what we were going to play in live, and I said ‘My character will be an undead warrior and her name is Mrs Spinks.’

It’s meant to indicate that she’s a Mrs Kray type of character (mum of the Kray gang). I liked it at the time because I thought it had a lot of personality. I have noticed though that she doesn’t fit in well to the sort of RP that goes in in WoW because that kind of character is unlikely to sit around emoting.

It’s great for a warrior though, I always wanted one of those rolling pin maces that drops in the Deadmines for her.

2.  What was the name of your very first character in an MMO?  Explain how you chose that name.

My first MMO character was a minstrel in DaoC. I called her Linnet because it sounds  like a name and also is a type of small songbird (which I thought fitted with a minstrel). Apparently it also means something in Swedish.

This  is something that crops up a lot on EU servers. If your name means something obscure in Hungarian, Portuguese or (in at least one case) Urdu, you can be sure someone who speaks it  will let you know.

3.  Have you kept a specific name through various games, or do you tend to change your naming habits based on the individual game?

It’s a mixture. If I’m feeling uninspired or I want friends to know who I am, I’ll pick an old name. But if the game and the setting has inspired me, I’ll think of a new name that fits into it. It’s because the old names are attached to characters who have already told their stories.

Amusingly, I always always think of new names for characters in City of Heroes. I can’t palm off a hero with a name like Mrs Spinks, although a better writer probably could.

4.  Do you ever reserve names, planning to use them for characters that you might play later?  If so, what are they and why do you hold on to them?

Yes, I totally do. It’s whenever I have a brilliant idea for a character name and/or concept. Many of them never actually make it into the game.

In WoW, I have one slot taken up by a level 1 undead priest called Nepenthe. I think it’s an awesome name, and only slightly pretentious. But never used it. It was inspired after a word-of-the-day post which referenced Poe.

Quaff, Oh Quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!

That’s so goth. I love it. Even though I’ve never been a goth, although I once did share a flat with one, and I loved playing the Vampire RPG.

5.  Of the three common archetypes in MMOs — tank, healer, DPS — which is your current main character?

My current main is a tank. And when dual specs go live later today, she is also melee dps.

6.  What archetype was your very first character in an MMO?  Why did you choose it?

I picked the minstrel in DaoC because it had the best run speed buff in Albion. Plus it did a bit of everything. But the runspeed was awesome.

7.  Are you usually attracted to one archetype over another, or do you play them equally?  Why?

I have played pretty much all archetypes in MMOs and enjoyed them. I like healing. I like support characters. I like tanking. I really like melee dps. The ranged dps classes I liked always had some support aspects (like crowd control, or healing).

Much as I like healing, I have realised that it’s only fun for me if I can either solo well also, or always be with another player, and/or be in very strong demand for groups. I like the groupability of it as much as the actual healing.

I think it’s because I’ve liked so many types that I tend to prefer characters that aren’t locked into one role. I have a fondness for the minstrel/burglar type which is more of a hybrid dps with lots of buffs or debuffs. But they never seem to really work out well in MMOs.

My favourite class ever was my old sorceress in DaoC, which was a crowd control class with good damage, and a permanent pet, and lifetaps, and a group speed buff. Crowd control is so fun in PvP when you are the one doing it and you have a nice selection of AE crowd control to choose from. In fact, it was totally overpowered and fun as hell :)

8. What is your favorite feature from an MMO you no longer play?

I loved that in Tale in the Desert that you could be in as many guilds as you wanted. It was really common to be in one local guild (ie. local to where you ‘lived’ that focussed on building stuff), one or more to do with favourite activities in game (eg. crafting, or acrobatics, etc) and some which were mostly chat channels or created to help organise temporary events.

I know you could do much the same thing with custom chat channels but it felt very different.

9.  Is there an MMO that you would play if it was free?  Which and why?

I’d definitely play more CoH if it was free. It’s such a casual friendly game. Any others … dunno. I like to get deep into my MMOs so there’s a limit on how much MMO time I really have.

Similar with WAR, my sub there isn’t up yet but I just don’t play enough to make it worth the subscription. Just I have fun on the odd times I do log in.

10.  How do you measure the success of a character in an MMO (total kills, titles accumulated, wealth, rare items collected, level reached, etc.)?

I think of my characters in two ways.

Firstly from a RP point of view: was I able to tell that character’s story? In an MMO, that usually means telling the story the devs want you to tell, and levelling to max level.

Secondly, the character is a tool for me to use to play the game. So was I able to explore the heart of that MMO. Did I try everything? Did I really grok how to play my character in different aspects of the game. Was I able to accomplish my in game goals for her?

So a successful character for me is usually one that reached max level, but also one which I became invested in. I have to care about the character, somehow, for it to really be a success.

I’m not tagging anyone but if you want to take part, feel free to get probed either in your own blog or in comments (if you aren’t a blogger ;) ). In particular, how do you define when a character is successful for you?

Look at these … blogs!

Honest Scrap Award

Honest Scrap Award

I feel awkward, and proud, and very humbled that Larisa@The Pink Pigtail Inn has nominated me for a blog award. And I’d like to thank my cat, the colour yellow, the plastic armoured landshark on my desk, and all three of my readers. I love you all!!

This is a meme, and a made up award, but the reason it’s meaningful to me is because it came from a blogger whose work I love and who continues to be a huge inspiration to me here.

And I couldn’t be happier to have a good excuse to write about some of my favourite blogs.  The meme part is totally optional, by the way, if it’s not your style.

Here’s the Rules

  1. When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.
  2. Choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have seven friends. Show the seven random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.
  3. List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. Then pass it on!

My Picks

I have a loads of blogs on my reader. Although some of the news blogs are great, and I love that you can pick up the RSS feeds on your favourite commercial sites, my favourites by far are the personal blogs.

So for me, what makes a cool blog is the personal touch. I like to be able to feel the personality of the writer come through, and that means people who write with passion about subjects they care about.

I can’t pick Larisa again (although the rules don’t actually say that, leaving open the possibility of an endlessly closed loop. Not the world’s greatest rules algorithm, but I geekgress ;) ), but what reaches out to me from her writing is how darned good she is at expressing her feelings for the games and people she writes about. As someone who always feels a bit awkward writing about myself, I really admire that. She’s a warm, kind, funny, thoughtful writer and person, and I got all that just from reading her blog.

Anyway, enough of that, here’s some picks:

Waaagh! — Anyone who follows the Warhammer blogs will know Syp’s megablog. I’ve always admired him for the strength and consistency of his writing, and for being so good at putting across the genuine enthusiasm he has for the games that he plays. He’s also been fantastically supportive to the Warhammer community, check out his Thursday links posts in particular. He also runs a blog about other MMOs called Biobreak; I hope Champions Online is everything you’re hoping for!

Player vs Developer – Green Armadillo shares my fascination with why people behave the way they do in online games. He focusses on how people respond to rewards and incentives, and even though I don’t share his love of pets and achievements, it makes for some great writing.

Tanking for Dummies – WoW has about a gazillion blogs all focussed on specific classes and specs. I do read a lot of warrior blogs (since Spinks is my main at the moment, and it’s fun to keep up with what other warrior players think). Some are hardcore, some are enthusiastic, some are informative, some are just nuts and I’m picking TfD because Tarsus is all of those things and he makes me laugh.

The Greedy Goblin – What really makes Gevlon’s writing stand out from the crowd is his philosophy of life, gaming, and economics. The blog reminds me of Freakonomics; and as well as discussing making gold in WoW, he also talks about player behaviour from an economic point of view. It makes me think, and I like that in a writer. He’s also very honest in his analyses of when he tried something and it didn’t work.

Killed in a Smiling Accident – Every so often you come across a blog that has a really strong writing tone, even though the writing is shared between a few different people. The KIASA chaps are so English that it hurts, and we love them for it. They also mix it up with some very insightful writing about the various games that they play, and they make me laugh. So there!

Wizards and Wenches - Another WAR blog. Regis wins my blog design award. I know he spends a lot of time tweaking it and it looks fantastic. He’s also a really strong and entertaining writer, which is the other reason you should read it. But it’s also the best looking blog I know.

Nerf the Cat – Arbitrary is another writer who is very good at expressing her feelings, even when she’s feeling down or frustrated. But whatever you do, don’t nerf the cat.

Ten Facts about Me

  1. I ate roast sparrow (on a stick) when I was in Japan.
  2. I have a PhD in digital signal processing.
  3. My character’s full name is Mrs Spinks. What happened to Mr Spinks? He ran off to join the Defias Bandits, no one who knows Mrs Spinks is surprised.
  4. My cat is a tortie who is coming up on her 17th birthday and came to us from a shelter. If you’re considering a rescue cat, do think about getting an older one. They’re just as sweet and much less work.
  5. Earl Grey. Milk. No sugar.
  6. The last TV show I watched was the first episode of The Apprentice.
  7. I almost always watch TV via the PVR, so I record programmes I like  and watch them later when it’s more convenient. ie. does not conflict with gaming :)
  8. I once played Aouda Fogg (the Indian woman who married Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days) in a live RP and had to learn how to put on a sari.
  9. I am a voluntary advisor at the local CAB.
  10. It was my birthday last Wednesday. Hurrah!