Team 7: Castle Joyous Plains

by: Calvin Patimeteeporn, Breon Guarino, and Aneel Henry

Book 3, Canto 1 Stanzas 20 – 30

From the forest, the PC is thrown into the midst of a small village in the plains surrounding Castle Joyous. Though the path to Castle Joyous is, indeed present, the road is blocked with construction, leaving the player at the hands of the villagers, who are in desperate need of assistance. It would seem as if the Lady of Castle Joyous, has neglected the villagers’ cries for help and has left the town completely isolated. Those townspeople with weak minds and souls have already left the town for the hedonistic castle of Lady Malecasta, leaving a handful of loyal and chaste villagers to deal with the problems. With no one to rely on, the town has fallen to a destitute state, being attacked by both wolves and bandits alike that emerge from the forest at night.
As the player enters the town past a rundown barn and two already abandoned watchtowers, the player witnesses the ruins of a once busy town square. A worried innkeeper is fretting over his dwindling food supplies that are continuously being pilfered by a wolf pack that has taken residence in an area of the forest near the town. Meanwhile, a small group of villagers are holding a meeting at the town well, discussing the bandit situation. While these villagers face these pressing matters, the rest of the village also holds a fair share of menial tasks that the townspeople cannot do alone. A small girl has lost her chickens around the town square and a young boy wishes that he could retrieve his family heirloom from one of the bandits.
While the menial tasks are up to the player to decide, the wolf and bandit situation, however cannot be left alone. Something must be done. Will the player pilfer the innkeeper’s store and blame it on the “undefeatable” wolves or will the player banish the wolves once and for all? Will the player help the bandits destroy and loot the entire village or will the player remain good and repel their advances? Regardless of choice, it would appear that after these events the road opens to Castle Joyous, allowing the player to move forward of his or her journey.
However, the player encounters a struggle between the six knights of the castle and a sole, brave knight, Redcrosse. The player must now defeat four of the six knights in order to gain entry to the next part of the journey, and gain access to the hedonistic castle that is Castle Joyous.

Main Quests:
1. The Road is Blocked (part 1)
•The player encounters road construction that obstructs the player from reaching the castle.
•The player must complete Quest 2 to proceed

2. A. The Wolves that Bite and Bandits That Catch!
•The player must talk to both the Innkeeper and the villagers meeting by the well

B1. The Wolves of the Forest
•In the forthcoming night, the player must confront the wolves that plague the Innkeeper
-Option A: Defeat the wolf pack that comes to raid the Inn’s storage (Chaste).
-Option B: Pilfer all the Inn’s store and lie to the Innkeeper and blame it on the wolves (Unchaste).

B2. Traveling Bandits
•In the forthcoming night, the player must confront the bandits.
-Option A: Kill all bandits that dare set foot in the town, expelling them forever from the village (Chaste).
-Option B: Join the bandits and raid and loot the entire town. Nothing escapes your wrath (Unchaste).

3. The Road is Blocked (part 2)
•After the Quest 2, the road is cleared and the player can move on.

4. Redcrosse and the Knights
•The player encounters Redcrosse and must defeat 4 of the 6 knights that are attacking them.
•The player is allowed entry to Castle Joyous.

Side Quests:
1. The Chickens
•The player talks to a young girl who seems to have lost her chickens.
•The player must collect all three chickens that are running around the village.
-Option A: Give back the chickens to the small girl (Chaste)
-Option B: Demand payment who in the end gives up a rare gem that has been passed down her family for years (Unchaste).

2. Lost Heirloom
•The player talks to a young boy in the square.
•The player must find and locate the heirloom which happens to be in the hands of a lone bandit near the village.
•Player must defeat the bandit.
-Option A: Return the heirloom to the boy (Chaste).
-Option B: Pretend you did not find the heirloom and keep it for yourself (Unchaste).

NPCs:
The Innkeeper: A worried middle-aged man in commoner clothing. Owns and operates the Inn which is plagued by wolves nightly.
The Villagers: A group of emaciated townsfolk with tattered clothing who are concerned about the future of their village with the pressing matter of bandits.
The Small Girl: A young girl with dirty and torn clothing who has lost all of her chickens.
The Small Boy: A young boy with dirty and tattered clothing with no other desire than to reclaim his family’s honor by having their stolen heirloom back in his hands.
Lone Bandit: A lone bandit in bandit attire, furs and ragged clothing. Though weak, he still poses somewhat of a threat. He has stolen the boy’s family heirloom.
Bandits: Gang of bandits dressed in furs and very aggressive. They raid the towns every night or so.
Wolf Pack: A group of 6 or so wolves that raid the Inn’s store nightly.
Redcrosse: A brave knight who refuses to succumb to Lady Malecasta’s knights and needs the player’s help to defeat them.
The Six Knights: Black knights of the Lady of the castle. Aggressive and intent on serving her.

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Faerie Land

I realize there’s no blog due today, but I just got done with a bunch of homework and I decided I needed a break. So I drew out the map of Faerie Land. Or rather, how I perceived Faerie Land when reading Spenser’s The Faerie Queene.

hfioew

I realize its kind of empty, but that’s because that’s all of Faerie Land that I have read…so far. This was physically and emotionally exhausting. I have a whole new respect for Tolkien.

Bigger image here: http://img189.imageshack.us/img189/2118/faerieland.jpg

Bloody Tears of Agony

by Calvin Patimeteeporn

 

Professor Hall:

Imagine you are playing the game Tetris. You’re playing along but you slowly begin to realize that the game is only giving you the awkward (and devastating) “Z” shaped blocks and you can never make a line. No matter how hard you try, the blocks fall down in unwanted patterns, creating tiny spaces that prevent you from your goal. Even though these “Z” blocks have the same number of blocks (4) as the other pieces you need, you are not able to win.

Now retain with this image but add bleeding tears of agony.

This, Professor Hall, is what reading Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser is like:

bleeding

If you think this is bad, you should see me when I read Twilight.

Continuing with my Tetris metaphor, while the number of “blocks” of the “Z” shaped blocks are the same as the others, its the arrangement that throws you completely off. Spenser wrote this epic (epic in its actual definition, rather than the modern slang) in a time where spelling was just as set in stone and mature as Stephanie Meyers’s writing ability. Thus, words he used were spelled completely differently than that of today, resulting in eye-bleeding-worthy confusion. Misspellings and archaic diction both contribute to the verbal pandemonium that ensues when encountered with non-literature savvy people. Much like the scenario in the game above and with Spenser’s work, you can’t win.

 

As well as confusing words, the structure of Spenser’s writing brings grief and frustration as well. Last week in biology, I learned that only 3% of the billions of base pairs in our genome actually code for proteins. This is much like Faerie Queene where basically most of the words used are, for the lack of a better term, junk. There is a small percentage however that actually contribute to story. In Book III Cantos iii, Glauce, the nurse to warrior maiden Britomart, takes said maiden to Merlin to seek help, as Britomart has been struck and sickened by love. Merlin explains to her that she is falling for her destined husband, Arthegall. He could have done so in maybe a few stanzas. However, Spenser decides to switch the characteristics of the wizard Merlin out with that of the Twilight saga, boring and far too long.

Faerie Queene is filled with enough odd spellings to make anyone think they are as illiterate as R. Kelly, and enough unwanted material that Matthew McConnaughey would think he has competition for the next  new romantic comedy movie. So here I warn you Professor Hall, approach Faerie Queene with the caution you would use with a rabid bear. Now if you will excuse me, I feel like this eye bleeding problem has gone out of control.

Hey! No running near the pool! -300 points!

by Calvin Patimeteeporn

The debate of over play and games have raised quite a debate in class, with arguments ranging from rules of games being the main construct of the definition of game to random inclusions of Newton’s laws of gravity. About 90% of the time when we talk about play v.s. games we bring up one defining factor of games: rules. While this is a huge part of the gaming as it basically provides the structure of games, we cannot define anything with rules as a game as we have done for quite some time.

Almost everything has rules, from basic etiquette to swimming pools, yet none of these can be considered as a “game”. This is, of course, the reason why we must narrow down our definition and stop subjecting life as a game simply because we “obey the laws of gravity” (This is for you Tyler). So, while rules play a part in gaming we must also consider another trait of games and not play: a removal of the individual from reality and into a gamespace.

A swimming pool, although filled with rules, is not a game as it does not actually transfer the user to another virtual realm. The pool doesn’t take the user into a fantasy world where there is an objective, goal, or conflict, it instead just gives you a hole with water and rules. Hardly a game. Thus, we can’t consider the difference between play and games as simply rules, but rather the transportation of the user.

For instance, games such as Grand Theft Auto take gamers into a different world with different rules. A player in Liberty City in the game are subjected to different rules and privileges that normally wouldn’t be socially acceptable in real life, a key difference between games, play, and life.

granny
“In hindsight, I can see why this may have possibly been a bad idea”

That being said, I conclude that play and games are, indeed, different, but the difference between them are not just rules but rather an inclusion of a gamespace as well. A classroom has rules but it is obviously not a game (or play for that matter). Thus, these arguments of life being a game or trampoline also being a game due to the laws of the universe, can be refuted as neither of which bring the user to a gamespace.

You are a part of the Rebel Alliance and a traitor! Take her away!

by: Calvin Patimeteeporn

Concerning the debate between whether either storyline or gameplay is of higher priority, I have been primarily set on gameplay first, storyline second most of my life. With my experience with early games, storyline seemed pretty useless. However, these games were usually those where storyline would probably be a liability or completely unneeded.

TET

“Oh no! If we don’t make these blocks line up the whole world will explode!”

This progressed through childhood. When I picked up the Pokemon games, I would completely fly past any text and mash the “A” button to breeze by any dialogue. All I cared about was leveling up and beating the Elite Four, winning over the evils of Team Rocket seemed completely irrelevant and boring.

But one game decided to help me see the other side of gaming, the storyline. This game was, of course, Knights of the Old Republic. While I was already a huge Star Wars fan, I was still intent on hacking and slashing through sith and evil droids with my lightsaber . However, when I sat down to actually play it, I was captivated by the narrative and story-based gameplay. Each event and how people interact with your character was completely based upon the choices made by the character, or realistically, me. This was a drastic change of mindset from Dr. Mario where shoving pills down people’s throats required no thought (though it really should have).

Looking back, I realize now that the combat and interface system of the game were a little choppy and not as great as they could be, but I never really cared about it because I was captured by the storyline like the Millennium Falcon was trapped by the Death Star’s tractor beam. The game provided the characters with choices to determine the players alignment with the Force. Either help civilians and fight for justice, or succumb to anger and unleash fury upon the galaxy. This struck me as a great example of one of Wark’s passages where he states that “The gamer elects to choose sides only for the purpose of the game.” (Wark, 012). While, normally people don’t think about killing innocent civilians and idolizing corruption (or at least I hope they do not) they are able to choose a different persona and run freely in the gamespace. This is awesome (in short). So, of course I did this too:


“Bow to your new Sith Lord, Darth Vortrag Nefarious”

So thank you Star Wars, I’ve developed a whole new view on gameplay vs storyline. When a game, though the controls and interface may be sub-par, the storyline is completely 100% capable of making up for this liability. This also benefits by helping immerse the gamer into the virtual world, which, sadly, is still just a virtual world and that completely inaccurate Sith Lord version of myself (though very powerful) is still just a figment of imagination within a game. But if a game can make me draw myself as a Sith Lord, it is definitely worthy of my praise and admiration.

You will now have to excuse me, I have a Sith Empire to run.

Did..did he just decapitate someone?

-Calvin Patimeteeporn (Calvirth)

While walking through the Shire in LOTRO, Calvirth is quickly spotted by hostile toads and is immediately attacked. Calvirth grasped his great sword and began to run towards the charging creature. Letting out a battle cry, Calvirth launches himself into battle, only to have all of his actions taken over by the computer. Every attack, ranged and melee, are all automatic. The game takes over combat entirely, leaving the gamer only controlling when he/she wanted to use a special attack. The combat system of LOTRO is completely non-interactive and extremely, for a lack of a better term, boring. Each attack in the game is completely up to a secret formula within the system that calculates the winner and the loser. However, rather than broadcasting that result in an efficient manner, gamers are put through choppy and repetitive animation. When I roam Middle-Earth in LOTRO, I purposefully avoid engaging in battles. Not because I am of a low level (13!) but because I dread the inevitable mundane process that is to follow: you attack, the enemy attacks, you attack, the enemy attacks, someone dies.

What Happens When I Play LOTRO:
LOTRO
Not Pictured: Fun

However, Snow Crash has an entirely new structure. Hiro Protagonist slices and dices people from page to page and Neal Stephenson writes these battles in great detail. Each fight is dynamic and captivating. Though the media of a book is not able to demonstrate animation as well as a game, the power of prose perfectly portrays these events. When reading Snow Crash I found myself completely captivated by the fight scenes. Whether it was Hiro decapitating a greased up guy trying to get on a boat or Raven throwing bamboo spears through people, I was engrossed. Sure, there weren’t pictures or videos displaying these fights but the imagination can take these scenes beyond what artists are able to create (corny!). Imagining Hiro lashing out his blades and dismembering multiple enemies from page to page is certainly an amazing experience, if not horrifying.

Me Reading Snow Crash
SNOW
Not Pictured: A Healthy Childhood

Thus, while a video game has more opportunities to be more compelling than a book, Lord of the Rings Online fails to captivate gamers in combat while Snow Crash does.

Books: 1 Video Games: 0

Toads are Terrifying

by: Calvin Patimeteeporn (Calvirth)

While I would love to describe th intricacies of the Epic Book 1 and Prologue, I can’t because of my horrible LOTRO skills. My inadequate skills of gaming has severely hindered my advancement to higher levels in the game and I apologize for not being able to reach these quests. However, I have a great substitute topic:

Why is this game SO. CONFUSING?

Today, I realized I have more than one sack to place my items in. I also realized that I can eat a numerous amount of food to regain health (morale? I dont know what to call it). I realized that I can, in fact, change weapons and sell items. All of this happened either today or yesterday. Did I mention I’ve been playing for a month?

Yes. A month.

Within that month I’ve discovered the wide variety of objects that can harm or kill me. Bears, wolves, man-eating spiders, and toads. YES. TOADS. How something so small can withstand 20 blows from an ax completely astounds me but I guess Shire toads are extremely resilient. I’ve also been called “n00b” in this game, or even better, completely ignored by other gamers who approach me and then quickly run away when I say, “Hi”. This world confuses me so. A frog can hold up a fight against me but when I fall from a manageable height I am left limping. Or how other gamers interrupt my fight with beasts to land the final blow. Or how it is only when I have very little health left do I fall off a cliff and into a wolf den where I am basically ripped to shreds by “Snarling Wolf” and “Wolf Leader”.

Besides my own frustration with the game, the virtual world of LOTRO that I actually HAVE experienced is amazing. The feeling that I have the entirety of Middle Earth to explore is real and the game designers attention to detail is amazing. It gave me great pleasure to walk around the Farthings and visit famous pubs, or even recognizing characters from the first book.

However, I am fully determined to reach the appropriate levels to enter these quest. Otherwise I would let down my avatar, and Calvirth will not stand for this.

Hear this Toads of The Shire! YOU WILL FALL BEFORE MY AX! I SWEAR TO IT!