TEAM 5: Maske of Cupid

By: Dan and Amir

Here is where we will give you the insight into our creative genius (and yes we are very full of ourselves)

Before we speak about our area we will discuss our NPC creation, Glauce. Glauce is Britomart’s squire. My first thought when I heard squire was the guys with the coconuts in the Monty Python movies. So we started with that and tweaked it to make it more appropriate (i.e. Glauce doesn’t carry coconuts). Most of Glauce’s design was left up to imagination so we wanted to give him a grandfatherly/protective image over Britomart, almost like a care-taker but at the same time he is just a commonly squire. So his apparel is very common brown tunic, cloak and pants and he has an older face with white/grey hair. Our only disappointment with him is that our original image of him was a slightly hunched over man carrying a bag on his back. Unfortunately the NWN2 Toolset doesn’t have the image of a bag anywhere and it seems none of their NPCs ever have back problems so we were forced to omit these design characteristics.

Our area was the Maske of Cupid which was ironic for two reasons. One, it’s not actually an area: the Maske was the parade of characters that walked through the tapestry room and since another group already had that room we just made the NPCs to fill their space. Two, although our name is the Maske of Cupid we were unable to create him since he is present in another groups area and it would be odd to have two different images of cupid. So to remedy that the other group has generously agreed to place their blueprint of Cupid behind our Maske as it is described in the Cantos.

The Maske of Cupid is fourteen characters in pairs in the following order: Fancy, Desire, Doubt, Danger, Fear, Hope, Dissemblance, Suspect, Grief, Fury, Displeasure, Pleasance, Despight, Cruelty. Additionally, there were supposed to be minstrels in front of the Maske but since that may have been confusing to people we decided it would be simpler to just put a music sound effect in the room.

All of the characters were made as they are for one of two reasons – either they were described that way by Spenser or they were our image of their quality (often times a little of both). Each character had a description in the Cantos, however, some were more detailed than others. This left us with a lot of creative freedom. We kept true to the descriptions as much as possible and some of the creations are exact (Danger for example is spot on) but others we took a lot of liberties with and effects were especially very subjective. Cruelty for example had almost no details given so we used our imagination and created the image of someone we thought was very cruel. We are highly satisfied with the outcome of all of the characters. GO US.

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the time of the DRAGON (green) – late blog

by: Amir Aschner

Three mediums – three handlings of the passage of time.

In the movie The Fellowship of the Ring time passage is the simplest. Simply there isn’t any perceived difference. One moment the characters are going about their lives and the next moment they are sitting and drinking the green dragon. There are no external cues that time has passed at all.

The game does little else however it is different. In LOTRO time is controlled by the gamer. Passage of time in the Green Dragon depends upon how long it takes to run there from another location or however long the gamer wants to spend in the building. There are no guidelines or rules.

The novel is the only medium that takes time into consideration. The text specifies exactly how much time has passed – twelve years. This is completely objective. No question about the time between events or the time spent in the Green Dragon.

Britomart – what a woman!

by Amir Aschner

Britomart is indeed a beautiful woman. I don’t know this for sure, because she has never really been described to me but it’s one of those things you just know. I have a gut feeling that she is beautiful. Not the kind of beautiful that would get her a modeling job in our world but the kind of beautiful you can’t quite place and don’t know how to describe but at the same time can’t turn away from. She is tall for a woman but about average for men. She definitely is a brunette (brunettes just seem more courageous to me) and her hair is just below shoulder height and wavy but not so full of volume it can’t fit into her helmet. She is slender and has a toned, fit physique but not overly so. She still retains her feminine form and has moderate curves. Her most powerful feature is her eyes. She has penetrating, intelligent, alluring, deep green eyes. She is not a flashy dresser. She is kind of a tomboy and prefers loose comfortable clothing (except her battle attire). However, when she wants to impress she prefers tasteful dresses, usually of earthly colors, that bring out her lightly tanned skin and long, smooth legs. She does not wear makeup, mainly because she doesn’t need it. Her face has its own unique attractive quality and makeup would just overshadow it.

Britomart could be compared to a plethora of people for her numerous qualities. However, to pick two I must choose Joan of Arc as a realistic historical woman who fought for what she believed in and was very brave and also to Mulan (the Disney character) because both characters fight for their own beliefs and trick others into believing they are men and meet their true love in the process.

As to the ridiculous question of who our heroine would vote for in the most recent election I must say Obama. Not necessarily because she liked him over McCain but because she is a strong independent woman who surely wants women’s rights and historically the Democrats have been a stronger supporter of that.

Talking to Britomart would probably be difficult seeing as she most likely speaks in old English. However, if we met and had a short conversation I imagine it would go something like this:

“Britomart? Hi, my name is Amir Aschner and I am a big fan of yours. You’re quite the woman by my standards.”

“Sir Aschner, to meet thy acquaintance is a pleasure, and your kind words are to my ear a treasure.”

“Right. Well I have a lot to do today. Very nice to meet you and I hope to see you again soon so we can get to know each other better.”

“Indeed, good knight. Fair thee well on your quests and may luck always be upon your chest.”

“(aside) Jeeze, if she always talks in rhyme that would get annoying fast.”

No Way, No How

By: Amir Aschner

I’m going to go ahead and assume most of my classmates are going to whine and complain in one way that online gaming has really affected their life this semester and maybe that is true. I’ll shoot it to you straight, though. It hasn’t been that bad. Gaming almost doesn’t affect my outside life at all. I am not a huge fan of the games we are involved in this semester. I don’t hate LOTRO nor NW2 (I actually like this one but I just don’t understand all the mechanics yet) but they are not my first choice of things to do in my free time. I do the work in them and get it out of the way but then I am done until the next assignment.

In terms of schoolwork, it is schoolwork so yeah there’s a small effect there. At first I was worried when I found out what would be our weekly assignment because I thought the games would take hours and hours of my time. Fortunately, there was no reason to worry. It is easy to spread out the time I am ‘working’ so my work in other classes doesn’t get interfered with and when I want to do something social I don’t have to hesitate. Schoolwork will always come before socializing but so far I haven’t had an issue because of my gaming. As for my athletic life, there is no chance I am going to miss a practice because I’m gaming. In middle and high school I gamed a lot more than I do now. I was actually very dedicated to whatever my current game was so it did affect a lot of aspects of my life. I definitely had less time to be involved in other aspects of life and y social life suffered for it. However, I noticed what the problem was and gave up hardcore gaming for when I came to college for exactly that reason. I want to do other things besides online gaming, while I am here and there’s no way gaming is going to get in my way (summer is a different issue, though).

Ownership, Shmowmership

By Amir Aschner

Does corporate ownership of a MMO affect the quality of one’s narrative experience? Yes and no.

Theoretically, the ownership of a narrative should have no affect on the quality of the experience. If I build a house and my neighbor builds an identical house neither house’s quality is better because of the name on the deed. Only when my neighbor and I begin furnishing the house does the quality of each become affected. Similarly, corporations can change the quality of narratives under their ownership in many ways. If the corporation changes the interface of the game or adds new plot lines or characters or any number of things the quality of that narrative experience changes.

Ideally, if the corporation is doing its job, corporate ownership of a MMO will not affect the quality of the experience. This is best because if we, the gamers, don’t notice they (the corporation) are there than we may focus on the narrative which is our original intent. However, nothing is ever perfect and we do see affects of ownership all the time. The most common encounters with corporate ownership are pre-game contracts, admins, and content changes of the game (via patch, expansion, etc.). Whether or not these changes are for better or for worse is the opinion of the narrative’s population.

Pre-game contracts that must be signed are often a hassle but their intent is two-fold. Firstly, they are there to protect the company and give them the right to change the game anyway they see fit. This is understandable but not always in the interest of our narrative experience. Secondly, it exists to protect the rights of the gamers against other people who may interfere with our ‘enjoyment,’ as it is written in most contracts. Both reasons for the contract may affect the narrative but not necessarily negatively.

Admins and content changes obviously have an effect as well. Admins have the power to greatly change our in-game experiences, be it positively or negatively. Generally having the need of an admin diminishes the immediacy of the narrative because we are involved with a non-narrative related entity, but if that involvement leads to the banning of a spammer does that not lead to a better quality? Content changes can also be good or bad. One the one hand, revamping the entire interface would be bad. On the other adding a new ‘zone’ that furthers the narrative would be good. The Mines of Moria in Lord of the Rings Online is a great example.

In the words of Indigo Montoya, ‘let me sum up’: Corporate ownership of a game does not necessarily affect quality of the narrative experience. Said ownership only influences the outcomes when the corporation consciously decides to manipulate its property.

You May Be a Manly Man but I am a Manlingtin Man

By: Amir Aschner

Manlingtin is the youngest son in a very old family. He is the descendent of some of the greatest warriors in the land. All of his siblings and elders are champions or guardians that fight for the peace and prosperity of the race of men. He was raised with the expectation of following in that tradition of valor and combat. His name was even chosen for its implication of being masculine and strong: a name that would be feared throughout the land by his foes. In his youth Manlingtin was given the best of all worlds. He received the best physical and combat training from his family but also was allowed to explore the scholarly world because brawns without brains meant nothing. However, Manlingtin did not fit into the role his family had prepared him for. From a young age he always preferred his education over his training. His favorite activity was to read a book while sitting under the shade of a great oak tree.

Manlingtin got along well with people in his home city and was well liked but he always felt most comfortable in nature and indeed it seemed nature enjoyed his company as well. His best friends as a child were actually the wildlife around his home. Eventually, Manlingtin realized he had a gift no others in his family had: he could control and manipulate the environment and elements around him. Upon this realization Manlingtin decided to forgo the rest of his combat training and focus on his studies and honing his new skills. This did not go over well with the rest of his family. They believed he was betraying their history and disgracing their ancestors by choosing not to become a warrior. Due to the disagreement between himself and his family Manlingtin decided to depart on his own and find his destiny.

Now Manlingtin may be found wherever the need is great. He prefers to travel alone or in the company of nature and his wildlife familiars. He is not a traditional warrior like the rest of his kin but indeed his name is now one to be feared. For everyday he grows in strength and wisdom and becomes more like the elements he controls: as swift as the wind, powerful as the water, indomitable as the earth and dangerous as fire!

Race me!

By: Amir Aschner

Every MMORPG I can think of has multiple races and classes involved in game play: WoW, EQ, Diablo, LOTRO, and the list goes on. Focusing on LOTRO we can see how these classes and races affect the media. LOTRO is a remediation of Tolkein’s novels “The Lord of the Rings.” This means that it observed and repurposed the information presented in the novels into a new format: the game. The classes and races that LOTRO incorporates play a huge role in supporting this remediation.

Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth is a very diverse place. I am sure he went to great lengths to ensure that this was so. He created a plethora of different races. Each has its own roll in the world, living habits, dietary habits, appearance, interests, skills, flaws, etc. You could not have the world of the Lord of the Rings without Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, Men, or Orcs. To leave out even one race would be an insult to Tolkein and a flaw in the game.

The books did not define characters as ‘classes,’ however if we take a close look and analyze enough characters we see similar patterns and characteristics that can be used to categorize them. For example, Legolas, and many other elves, were excellent woodsman and bow-users. In the game a hunter epitomizes this roll. Aragorn, Boromir, and Gimli are excellent fighters and are skilled with their respective weapons. Is that not also what a Champion or a Guardian is in the game? How about kicking it old school and looking at Bilbo in “The Hobbit?” He is recruited to join the dwarves as a ‘thief.’ That sounds very familiar to class in the game. If we continue to look at characters this way in all of the books we see that the class specifications are not that far-fetched and go hand in hand with the narrative of the stories. In fact, not including the classes would detract from the remediation of the game.

The game does such a good job at recreating the novel because each race and character is presented in a way that they interact similarly to the novels. For example, the races are already set in to factions good vs. evil, just like the novels, and the classes all interact according to the logic Tolkein created in his narrative (you would not battle many monsters alone or fight magic users without one of your own). Not only are the races and classes presented in LOTRO effective at enriching the narrative, they are key to its success. Without each and every one of them the remediated media would be a failure in the eyes of a real fan.