And it was a fun time, with a lot of different opinions and a very relaxed atmosphere. However much of an afterthought it might have been from the perspective of hard news, it was a great time for the fans, and that's what the column is really all about, right? So check on past the break for some of the highlights from the evening, not to mention my global handle. (Because people asked there and I blanked under pressure. Plus there wasn't room on the nametag.)
First things first: I am posting a picture of my nametag to the right just to prove that I did both space and forget to put my handle on it. (I hadn't actually thought much of that until I walked around and saw everyone else in the world had put theirs down. That was awesome.) I swear that my handwriting is usually neater than that, but I think putting up handwriting samples is a bit beyond the scope of this column.
While I probably could have gotten away with mostly relaxing, I wound up trying to get an informal survey of a lot of people's individual opinions about different servers. Those of us from Virtue were out in force, but it was great to see that the unofficial roleplaying server was hardly the only port in the storm. Everyone there was happy to talk about roleplaying and character concepts, including one of the nice men from Infinity who talked about his controller named "Pedobear."
It's okay to laugh, really.
Chatting with the folks from Infinity was really wonderful, in fact, because while I've made more than a few jokes about the dearth of PvP in the game it's partly fueled by a lack of perspective. PvP is not my thing, I admit that freely, but there are people in the game who enjoy the heck out of PvP. And the trio of Infinity players I sat down and interrupted in the middle of their game of pool were happy to give me a rundown of the server's issues, its status, and what they really wanted from the game.
For the record? They know the stereotypes, they know the jokes, and they're about as close to the truth as the stereotypes of roleplayers crying in corners instead of playing the game. As Slax put it, they don't have any qualms with people who don't want to PvP. They can stay out of open PvP areas and not take part. What they want is to be able to enjoy the game on their terms, something that shouldn't be an issue with the segregation of skill mechanics that's currently in force. More than anything, they want to break the cookie-cutter builds in PvP and the seeming apathy toward the format from the development team.
Ultimately, it's a matter of live and let live. Let them PvP and they'll let you do whatever you want. They will not team with you if you're not in the criteria they're looking for, but it's not out of malice, just out of pragmatism. I can only hope that understanding leads to less enmity, and perhaps one day we can all walk hand in hand... er... we can respect the difference in playstyle.
I also got a chance to chat with a representative of the Protector server, who dubbed it "the 18-plus server" on account of the overall culture and backed it up with a few amusing anecdotes. (Really should have gotten her name.) And unsurprisingly, there were more than a few horror stories about roleplayers on Virtue who flipped out over the lack of in-character chat at any given moment. (For the record, guys? That's not cool. Don't do that.)
And that's not counting the nice conversation I had with Brian Clayton, the gentleman who absolutely dwarfed me but talked with me at length about running a fansite whom I am now totally blanking on three days later (really should have gotten HIS name, too), Oh, and meeting our frequent commenter SkyStreak, as well as at least one other fan whose name Sera had no problem remembering but I keep forgetting.
I'm bad with names.
Leaving aside my inability to remember who I talked to a couple days later, the whole event was a great way for the community to get together, and to put aside our relatively minor differences in favor of what we all truly share: the game itself. Some people were unreservedly enthusiastic for the upcoming changes, some wanted to wait and see, but no one was really whining. There was also one young man who came because his friend wanted him to start trying the game, and I think nearly everyone in that room turned on the charm in hopes of getting him online.
It was also an excellent opportunity for swag, as they offered a player's choice of costume cards and several other bits of niceness. I went for the Carnival of Shadows costume, since it was a toss-up between that and the Praetorian Clockwork, and I think we'll be sick to death of the latter group in a few months. I also picked up the Arachnos projector pen and an Arachnos pin, in honor of my ongoing attempts to actually play a darn villain successfully, darn it all.
Last but not least, since I mentioned it earlier, my global chat handle in the game is @QFisher. I wanted to make sure that was easy to spot. So now those of you reading this can go yell at me in-game for having forgotten your names, something I deeply apologize for. (For what it's worth, I forgot my girlfriend's name the first time I met her and had to ask for it again when I saw her the next week.)
Next week, we're going to be doing questions and answers, so feel free to pester me via e-mail (Eliot at Massively dot com), in-game chat (@QFisher, remember), or just via the comments below. Thanks to everyone for a great time at the meet-up, and please don't skewer me for names I forgot if you're a new or returning reader. I really did enjoy talking to everyone. Except for maybe that one guy who said I looked like a pear with a beard.