Group 2 – Jousting Plain!

Alec Jordan and Kashyap Saxena

Jousting Plain Overview/Quests

Overview

To the north of the Classroom is the Jousting Plain. Upon entering the Jousting Plain, the player encounters a wide open space surrounded by forests in the distance. The player will enter the area with a full set of armor, including a shield with the depiction of a black, walking lion upon a golden background. In the player’s inventory will be a spear that glows upon equipping. The spear will have a tooltip saying, “Makes the wielder almost unbeatable in jousting events.” After walking through the natural path between some hills at the beginning of the area, the player will come to a stretch of land that is much flatter.

The grass is a vivid green and occupies the entire plain. Continuing on to the Northeast, when the player begins to near the end of the area, 3 NPCs appear and call out. The player will see two knights and a servant. The knights are Arthur and Guyon; the servant is Timias, all to the southwest. Guyon will call out that he sees another knight, which is the player.  The player will be prompted to equip the spear in his/her bag. Once equipped, the joust begins. To win the joust, the player must choose the command ‘thrust spear’ at the correct time. Too early and the player misses, too late and Guyon destroys you before you have a chance to hit him. There will be about a one second window as both run towards each other. If the player is successful in defeating Guyon, narrative dialogue will appear telling the player that he/she should continue northeast into the next area, the Joyeous Forest. The exit gate is now unlocked. (Book 3, Canto 1, Stanzas 1-11)

Dialogue

1)      Guyon: “Behold! I spy a knight with a lion on his shield. He must think himself brave; let him prove himself against the knight Guyon!”

2)      Narrative: “Equip lance (inventory) then joust against Guyon.”

3)      *Upon Victory* Narrative: Before too much conflict comes of this other knight’s shame, you should hurry and exit. The path to the northeast leads into the forest; it is your best choice. *Experience given*

4)      *Upon Defeat* Guyon: “Thou art unfit to call thyself a knight!” *Player dies, respawns in classroom*

NPCs

*Arthur and Guyon will both be dressed similarly in traditional knight armor, and preferably be on horseback.

*Timias will have a more common garb.

 

Quests

  1. The player must first trigger the jousting match by getting close to the exit of the Jousting Planes.
  2. The player must then defeat Guyon, the knight, in a jousting match. Experience awarded from completion.
  3. Upon completing the joust, narration occurs that spurs the player to continue on to the northeast into the woods.
  4. Receive a small bit of XP for story completion upon successfully following the story line.

Player’s shield!

Player's Shield, modeled after Britomart's.
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Back in My Day, The Pen Was Mightier Than the Sword.

But with the use of computers (and therefore keyboards) constantly on the rise, this phrase is fairly outdated. Therefore, so us people that still adhere to the power of prose and poetry can keep up with the hipness of the times, I propose an amendment. We will now say, “The wording pwns the swording.” Ignoring the fact that sheer lameness might be worse than being outdated, I would like to take the time to point out that it is simply the terminology and not the literature itself that is outdated.

 

So, you enjoying your LOTRO account? Heck, you enjoying any sort of video game or movie or modern book that employs the use of magic, dragons, wizards, knights, or any other variety of mystical creatures? Go ahead and send props to a guy named Spenser, then. The “older” writers like Tolkien and such totally riffed off him — legitimately and in good fashion, but riffed off him nonetheless. It’s Spenser’s work, The Fairie Queene, which you have to thank for your ability to send a ball of hurling fire from your palm into the face of a charging knight.

 

Granted, Spenser himself worked off of even older dudes like Ovid. Ovid’s the Roman guy who wrote the epic, The Metamorphoses. Don’t confuse him with the German Kafka, who wrote a completely different book by the same name. Don’t confuse Kafka with Kefka, the evil villain from Final Fantasy VI either, for that matter. He’d be insulted and call you an awful vermin. But yeah, even with taking his writing from Ovid and the like, Spenser’s the first who really made an impacting writing with an English Influence rather than translating the actual legends themselves.

 

Now, I often found myself as an outlier in high school due to the fact that I could read Shakespeare. That doesn’t mean Shakespeare was easy for me; much of his writing was quite difficult to muddle through. That being said, Spenser’s difficult level smacks Shakey. I was thoroughly intimidated after reading the first couple stanzas. But once you can get into the flow of reading the lyrical nature of his sonnets, Spenser is fascinating. It’s much the same as putting on some techno music and grinding out some levels on your MMO of choice. After realizing the depths to which his words plunge, it’s no surprise that hundreds of years of literature in multiple genres can be traced almost exclusively back to this one work, The Fairie Queene. Yeah, it’s a tough read. It’s a bloody hell of a read. But bloody hell is what you’re into dark magic and conjuring demons for anyway, right?

Do Work

“Oh man. I had to spend four hours last night studying for my chem test, and then I had a huge Spanish assignment.”

“I know what you mean. I had to kill like, fifty boars-“

“Wait, what?”

“Er, I said I studied for like, 50 boring hours last night.”

I felt guilty trying to explain to my friends trudging through the premed course path that while they were pouring over textbooks, I was playing an online game. I shouldn’t, but I do. I mean I know how tedious the games can get. The act of transcribing the experience to another student, however, doesn’t convey the same feeling.

In reality, playing online games for homework is just like any other piece of homework in that it’s required, you have to be on a certain pace, and you have to make connections back to your experiences later in class. Just like my friends who are “Mastering Chemistry” (a computer/online based system of chemistry lessons and homeworks), my success is dependent on my ability to use the game mechanics presented, have time to sit at my computer and work, and be able to connect to the internet. Without those three abilities, neither Mastering Chemistry nor LOTRO (or in this case, blog posts; sorry!) can be tackled promptly.  Granted, I would much rather play an online game like Lotro rather than memorize the steps of glycolysis. However, I know people who honestly feel the exact opposite.

And yeah, there are times I’ve played LOTRO rather than do something more enjoyable like a swim workout or play football with the guys in my house. But that’s just the way that homework works. Whether online gaming or online chemistry, it’s really not very different once you’ve experienced a quest that takes you 30 minutes of walking to find, 15 minutes of mashing the 1 and 2 keys, and a 10 minute trek back… only to lead to a similar quest as a follow-up.

 

-AlecSJ

Disappointment of the Rings Online and the UEAG

So, Lord of the Rings Online has some pretty cool things going for it. You can gossip with Hobbits. You can explore the depths of Moria. You can fight hordes of orcs. But there is one thing LOTRO seriously lacks that in my opinion makes the game a gigantic disappointment.

You can’t punch Legolas in the face.

Now, don’t get all self-righteous and say I’m awful for wanting this. I mean, aside from fifteen-year-old fangirls, who HASN’T wanted to? But beyond that, I assert that he represents a classic character archetype in classic “epics.” The useful-but-extraordinarily annoying guy (Point of clarification: ‘guy’ does not necessarily mean ‘male’ in this context).

Talk about any archetypes you want; the orphan, the zero-to hero, or the overthrow of an existing governmental system despite overwhelming odds. To me, none of these grasp my attention, whether from awe, enjoyment, or frustration, quite as much as the useful-but-extraordinarily annoying guy. This guy is present anywhere you look. For instance, Star Wars is always compared to Lord of the Rings for a plethora of different reasons. In Episodes I, II, and III of Star Wars, you have Jar Jar Binks. In episode I, when he gets his tongue stuck in the pod-racer, who actually thought to themselves, “Oh, I hope he gets out!” Uh, hardly anyone.

In episodes IV, V, and VI, the UEAG is hidden by the fact that he’s actually Luke Skywalker. I dare you, the reader, to go back to the movies, watch them, and compare the amount of whining Luke does to the amount of profound, jedi-esque statements present in his dialogue. It’s pretty astounding.

Well, Jar Jar managed to save the day once or twice, and Luke is technically the protagonist of episodes IV-VI. And Legolas… killed a bunch of orcs. Still useful, but not quite to the extent of Jar Jar or Luke (yes, I’m saying Jar Jar played a bigger role in the success of his mention than did Legolas).

Legolas’ dialogue deviates between self-righteous “I’m an elf and therefore better than you” babble and immature distractions (Counting kills when the livelihood of the entire world is on the line? Really?). I could have dealt with this, but the movie made it worse. Orlando Bloom.

Omg how cute! And annoying!
Omg how cute! And annoying!

The dialogue ontop of the now very visual “girlyboy” features and exquisite hair just makes one furious (or at least it should). And LOTRO, my last beacon of hope to rectify my frustration, failed me.

-AlecSJ

Edit: I decided to include a small list of other UEAGs from various different mediums, in order to provide a frame of reference for my criteria.

Dobby – Harry Potter Series (Novels/Film)

Gurgi  – The Chronicles of Prydain (Book of Three, Black Cauldron, etc. novels)

Cyclops/Scott Summers – X-Men (Comic/Film)

Polonius – Hamlet (Play)

Nearly the Entire Cast – Final Fantasy X (PS2 game)

Eli Manning – 2007 New York Giants (NFL Team)

Snow Clash

I’ve always been a fan of literature and reading in general. That being said, it’s surprising when I think about it how much I prefer reading about sword fighting than actually engaging in the violence in a virtual world such as LOTRO. Snow Crash makes no attempt to be passed off as nonfiction. It is a satire with elements so exaggerated that many come off as nearly if completely comical. I mean, a guy walking around Los Angeles with a pair of Japanese swords strapped to his back? Not something you’d typically see in ANY city (unless there was a convention of some sort being held).

Yet it’s more engaging. In LOTRO I have more at stake with the fight; it’s my character representing me that is fighting, compared to a character in a book where the outcome is fixed whether I read on or not. But it’s not as immersing. Possibly it has to do with imagination. When reading the book I am able to imagine all sorts of possible subtle movements or effects of each action; in LOTRO I’m stuck watching the same animation over. And over. And over. This is especially disappointing if, like me, your computer isn’t built to handle games (or anything else) requiring any amount of relatively advanced graphics. I have to completely minimize the game quality in order to play it at all. Might I be more engaged in the game if there was actually visible detail? Maybe a little, but probably still not to the same degree as when reading the novel.

Snow Crash also has a little more of a realistic feel to it. Despite being only text rather than actual images of humanoids as in LOTRO, I find the combat more believable. Part of it is definitely the weapons. In LOTRO I’ve found myself wielding something named along the lines of “Steel Greatsword of Endurance,” which means it gives my character “+12.3 in-combat moral regeneration” (or something) and a “+ chance to critically hit.” In Snow Crash, Hiro Protagonist dual wields a Katana and a Wakizashi. While “Katana” doesn’t immediately sound as epic or mystical as the Steel Greatsword of Whatever, it turns out that a Katana gives me a “+12.3 to Reality” and a “+ chance to slice a dude in half.” That’s just more appealing to me if I’m going to read about combat. The description elements mixed with my imagination create a scenario many times more believable than the scenario simply given to me by LOTRO.

Also, how can you not cheer for a guy named Hiro Protagonist? No matter how hard I try, I’ll never have a character with a name THAT awesome in LOTRO.

-AlecSJ

Still Waiting…

So I’ve been playing LOTRO. As a gamer who likes to try many aspects of a game before settling into one roll, I played a character throughout the introduction as different races and classes. After doing this a few times, I had one take on the game that overwhelmed all others: It simply wasn’t epic.

Part of this is probably because I am playing on a laptop with a barely adequate gaming system, so all of my sound is jumpy, graphics are lagging, and my senses are simply underwhelmed. But also, the game cannot (and understandably so) compare to book in regards to the dire feel in regards to the quest. In the book, Frodo is carrying the ONE Ring. The ULTIMATE source of Evil. The entire world will COMPLETELY PERISH should he fail.

In the game? You’re… well, I’m not quite sure yet, to be honest. As slow a read as Tolkien can be, he is more successful than this online manifestation of his work in establishing the threat that looms over. A lot of the threat I feel in the game actually comes from having read the book and knowing what’s going on elsewhere, actually. My quest has no real end; it is seemingly chores streaming together that may or may not end up with as much importance as is being hinted.

I’ll continue to play. It’s generally not a boring game, and hopefully the plot will have more draw as I advance. But for right now, I’m still waiting for that one big hook to really get me immersed and make me realize the brevity of the situation.

-AlecSJ

Bored of the Board?

One vivid memory I have of my childhood is spending countless hours playing Star Fox 64 or Super Mario 64 on my Nintendo 64 game console, which was the first console I ever owned. That’s not to say I was a video game fanatic, however. Often times when I would invite friends over, I would suggest a game of checkers or chess, though I would often be met with the same answer of, “No, let’s play Nintendo; chess (or checkers) is boring!”

Oh how crestfallen my grade-school self would be! After spending so much time practicing against my dad on board games to try and get “good” at them (whatever that term means for a young kid), rarely would I get the chance to match my wits against my friends’ in those arenas. Looking back with the knowledge I have now, the obvious reason of video games being the hip, new thing still resounds. However, I now also see the difference in the mechanics of both styles of games, and therefore why the video games were so appealing: The idea of a progressive story line rather than just thinking of how to manipulate, work around, or work against rules was a huge pull on young kids who are in a prime age for absorbing all sorts of new stories in fantastical realms.

All games have rules, regardless of the impact the rules have on the game. In some games, like chess, the rules are just as important to defeat as your opponent is in that your skill at navigating through or around the rules usually dictates your success. However with the more progressive (games based more on an evolutionary track of skills, story, or both) orientation, the rules may just be guidelines rather than direct opposition. For instance, in Final Fantasy games, there is no ability to jump, a seemingly effortless action compared to everything else going on. With this “rule” of no jumping, the player is limited in his or her movement. However, rarely deters someone who wants to play the game; the advancement in the game overcomes the restrictions set by the rules. In comparison, if a player is upset with the sole option of diagonal movement in checkers, he or she is much more likely to quit playing due to the larger role of the rules in the game’s core conflict.

I am a video game fan, and have been since my Nintendo 64. However, I will also always enjoy a good game of checkers or chess. To those people who think board games are boring due to their lesser depth or progression, I would simply tell them to rethink how you they view the rules. They are not just a constraint, but a challenge, obstacle, even an opponent. They are called “games” rather than “chores” or “puzzles” for a reason; they have conflict, they have invested interest from those playing, and losing is not any more fun or acceptable in their mediums. The next time anyone uses the term “gamer,” rethink – is the term really being used all inclusively?

-AlecSJ