Cupid’s Tapestry

Team 6 (aka the best team ever): The Tapestry of Cupid

Canto 6 Stanzas 29-46 describe Cupid’s Tapestry.

While exploring the rooms and halls of Castle Busirane, the player finds on the ground a small piece of an old tapestry; and upon picking it up, the magic woven into the cloth pulls them in. They will appear within the tapestry itself, though at first they won’t realize where they are. Gods and goddesses from several of the old Greek myths appear, as do three of Jove’s lovers; but, very few of them realize where they are or that they are mere shells, one-layered avatars of the people and divinities they actually represent. Only Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, is wise enough to puzzle out the mysteries of tapestry; and she and Danae are the only ones who can point the way back to the Castle for the player.

The land in the tapestry is that of a beautiful, flourishing forest; and yet, the ruins of one of Athena’s temples lies within it, and a calm ocean borders it. The strange mix of landscapes is Cupid’s doing; he has brought together people and places to give tribute to his many victories over the other gods. Europa, standing near the player when they first appear in the tapestry, will introduce them to the land they have entered; but her own ignorance as to the nature of the tapestry will limit her helpfulness. Semele likewise is more than willing to tell the player her own story, as commanded by Cupid, but will not tell the player how to leave. Jove and Apollo each grieve for their lost loves, while Neptune joys in the memories of Theophane; and these gods will instruct the player to seek out Athena in the ruins of her temple. Upon finding her, she will reveal all she knows of the mysteries of the tapestry and how to escape it, and the player’s journey through this twilight zone will end when they find Danae, who stands in quiet contemplation of her bittersweet story near the exit back to Castle Busirane.

Quests:

There are no quests in Cupid’s Tapestry, merely conversations; though the NPCs will attempt to do as Cupid instructed and tell their tales to the player, there is never a moment where the player’s hand is forced. Should they wander for long enough, the way back to Faerie will reveal itself eventually.

NPC Name Description
Jove Jove is ruler of the gods of the Greek pantheon, but still is subject quite often to the machinations of Cupid. He is a sad and grieving soul in the tapestry, which is how Cupid wishes to encounter him; outside the tapestry he would never be so depressed. He doesn’t know how to leave the tapestry, but will tell the player that Athena can help them. Jove can be found in the belt of verdant forest that runs through the tapestry.
Neptune A jovial soul, especially when compared to his brother and nephew. Though still bound to tell of his love for Theophane, his is a happier glorification of Cupid’s victories. His avatar has never thought of escaping the tapestry, though he is smart enough to know that Athena probably knows how. Neptune stands on the shoreline, next to a small dock and boathouse.
Apollo Apollo, like  his father Jove, is  a melancholy soul in the tapestry. He never leaves Daphne’s Grove, spending all his time in quiet solitude with the plant forms of three of his loves–Coronis, Hyacinth, and Daphne. He gives no thought to any plight of the player’s, instead preferring to share his misery by retelling the tales of those he lost.
Athena Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, is the only one besides Danae who knows what’s really going on in the tapestry. If the player will listen to her, she’ll eventually tell them the way out and reveal what she knows to them. Athena resides in the ruins of her temple, a likeness of the one she destroyed after Neptune and Medusa violated it.
Europa Europa will be the first NPC the player encounters; she stands right next to the spawn point. However, she is not very helpful as she has little idea of the true nature of the tapestry and how she came to be there. She can, however, introduce the player to the world they have stepped into.
Semele Semele, like Europa, is not very helpful. She wanders the forest, and can point out that Athena may be able to help the player more than she can, but mostly she’ll simply tell the story of her death and of the birth of Dionysus.
Danae Danae, having learned from Athena the secrets of the tapestry, stands very near the exit back to Castle Busirane. Besides telling her bittersweet life story, she marks with her very presence that the player is nearing the end of their journey in Cupid’s Tapestry.
Location Description
The Forest This belt of verdant trees and grass cuts across the area, and a few of the inhabitants of the tapestry wander it. The player will enter the tapestry at the far end of the wood, near Europa.
Athena’s Temple This is a likeness of the temple where Neptune brought Medusa, or at least a likeness of its ruins. Within it can be found the goddess of wisdom herself, in a dark and quiet solitude.
The Ocean At the southern edge of the tapestry is an ocean, and at its shore are a dock and boathouse–all to accommodate the lord of the seas, Neptune. However, Cupid does not wish for visitors to swim away, and the ocean is therefore kept off-limits.
The Bloody River As described by Spenser, a “bloudy river” flowed around the tapestry’s edges, filled with the rich, the poor, the peasants, the kings, all defeated by the God of Love.
Daphne’s Grove Near Athena’s temple is a small grove where a laurel tree sits. This tree is Daphne, who was turned to bark and leaves to escape the love of Apollo; and around her silent memorial grow pansies and sweetbriars, the flowery forms of two of Apollo’s other loves, Hyacinth and Coronis. Apollo himself never leaves the grove, but stands in contemplation of his grief for them all.
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The Faerie Queene For Techies

So….you’re about to read The Faerie Queene. You’ve got your book (or more likely Kindle) ready to go, and then you look at the file size, the terrible, terrible  spelling, and the tiny print, and you shut that book, and decide to ask SparkNotes instead. Well, Professor Clayton knows about SparkNotes, and the stuff you get there won’t be on the test. That being said, here’s a better guide to getting you through the longest poem ever written in the English language.

  1. Reading the Farie Queene is an interesting experience, for one. The language is not quite Shakespeare, not quite Chaucer, and to say that it is not quite spell checked  would be an understatement. However, there is a meter to the words, and once you get the hang of it, the road to understanding what Spenser is trying to tell you is only marginally bumpy. Reading aloud works; it slows you down so you have time to understand one line before reading the next. The footnotes and word replacements help too, even if they mess up your reading rhythm.
  2. Now that you can read the words, it’s time to figure out what you’re reading, and trust me, it’s about as far away from C++ as you can get. The Faerie Queene is, on the surface, a poem and a story, but a heavily allegorical one that uses characters, places, and events (sometimes not so subtly, either) to impart messages. Spenser’s messages are mostly concerned with the nature and different facets of virtue, along with praising Elizabeth I far too much for her own good. He’ll often link events in his stories back to classical mythology, but doesn’t always make the connection obvious. For example, the impregnation of Chrysogene, mother of Belphoebe and Amoret, takes place via a ray of sunshine, which connects her to both the Virgin Mary and Danae, a figure from Greek mythology who experienced the same thing. Or, take this allegorical chain of symbols for Elizabeth: Belpheobe’s name comes from Diana, the chaste warrior maiden, who is goddess of the moon, another name for which is Cynthia, which is a name Sir Walter Raleigh sometimes used for Elizabeth–so really, Belphoebe = Elizabeth I! Does this seem convoluted to you? Well, too bad. Spenser’s audience, the Renaissance-educated nobility of England, expected stuff like this in everything they read: deeper meanings, double, triple and quadruple connections, and thin or complex metaphors were searched for in nearly every word an author wrote. Spenser did not disappoint on this expectation, and as a result there are still books and dissertations and whatnot being published on him today.
  3. Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Go on, open up SparkNotes. It’s ok, I won’t tell Professor Clayton. Now, read the canto summary. Doesn’t that feel just great? You’re reading modern, spellchecked English words written by someone who is still alive. AND you know what’s going on in the canto, which means it’s time to close that lovely Mozilla window and return to the Kindle. Getting a summary before you do the reading can be useful; when a new character appears out of the blue or something new happens, you’re not totally thrown by trying to process all of the story events, allegories, and language at the same time. Since you are pre-informed, you can focus on the language itself and the more nuanced bits in the plotline.  Just be sure to keep an eye peeled! There’s way more to the poem than can be covered by a single page summary, even if it is on SparkNotes.
  4. Lastly, enjoy yourself. If you sit there and make the reading a drudgery, it will be one. Instead, picture the forest, or Britomart saving the Redcrosse Knight, like a movie, or even think about how awesome  different scenes might look when remediated to the Faerie Queene Online game. If you can engage yourself and take an interest in what’s happening, then you don’t need any other advice.

Dacia

Nerd Cred and the Gateway MMO

One year, when I was still in elementary school, my mother found that she needed advice. Dad’s birthday was coming up, and she simply did not know what to get him. So, being the kind and thoughtful person she is, she phoned Uncle Pat, one of Dad’s best friends, for some help. “Try Everquest,” he said. “I’ve got it and it’s a lot of fun. I think he’d like it.”

After that, our lives were never the same.

Mom unknowingly went down to the store and picked up what I like to call the gateway drug of MMOs, and much to her dismay, both of her daughters and her husband have been hooked ever since. Though I never played Everquest myself, I enjoyed watching my dad play. To my eight-year-old mind it looked like a movie, but you were the main character! It was YOU who got to slay monsters and explore a new world and outfit yourself with armor befitting a great hero. When I got a little older, I stepped into the online worlds of Guild Wars, SWG, and others, and never looked back.

I think, because I grew up with games, I have learned how to not let them affect me too much. I have an ‘rl’ life much larger than the one I have online, and never let a game release get in the way of homework. I’m also pretty picky about which games I like, so I’ve never had to watch my spending either. It’s the way I present my gaming to the world at large that has always required delicacy. Mostly it’s a matter of who I’m talking to. When asked what writing seminar I was taking by a fellow first-year, I would say, “The one where we get to play video games for class.” Though this is somewhat inaccurate, it allowed me to not only avoid the social stigma of the ‘online gamer’ but to arouse jealousy in the questioner, who usually had a seminar in the wonderful and captivating field of British War Writing. With my friends, however, I could brag all I wanted about the fact that not only was my homework to watch The Fellowship of the Ring, I got to play LotRO for college credit. It’s all about the audience. Not everyone responds to the same things.

That’s not to say that I am not proud to be a nerd, a geek, or a sci-fi aficionado. I just know how to balance them so that those on the outside (you know, the normal people. There’s one! Did you see him?) can still be friends with me–whether or not they speak Klingon (just for the record, I HAVE NEVER STUDIED KLINGON–seriously). Though gaming is one of my favorite things to do, it’s not all I do, nor is it ever all anyone does. If anything, gaming this semester has merely given me extra nerd cred with my high school friends, and made some classmates green with envy. So why is there even a stigma associated with gaming? I could go on all day on that, but, it’s another post.

May the Force be with you!

Dacia

Why I love Star Wars (or, John Williams is the Man)

Originally, I thought I might just write that as my title, and then not talk about Star Wars at all (huzzah for in-jokes) but then I realized that you can relate Star Wars to anything, and therefore I can write about Star Wars for this topic.

I first watched A New Hope when I was really young–in fact, we still have the old VHS tapes from when Lucas released the new-and-improved versions of the original trilogy (you know, with the Jawa falling off the  Ronto and the more-crowded cantina and Han shooting second). I think it might have been those first few viewings of that galaxy far, far away that turned me into not only a fan of SciFi, but of adventure–particularly quest romances.  I devoured old myths and fantasy/sci-fi novels as I grew up, never realizing that these stories  had a lot of the same traits until I read Eragon (caution: spoilers ahead!). When Eragon finds out that the right-hand man of evil, Morzan, is his father, all I could think of was Luke and Vader on Cloud City. The light bulb flickered on, and after that,  I really dove in, looking up Hero of a Thousand Faces and just about everything else Joseph Campbell wrote, comparing legends and myths from various civilizations and, of course, writing my own stories as well. Call it escapism, a hobby, an antisocial activity–whatever you like. You’ll still have to admit that there’s something in Star Wars (and in any quest romance) that makes you want to be a part of it.

Quests are a part of life. Most have meaning only for you, but they’re still there. Whether you’re walking across campus to find a professor’s office or writing a paper or applying to college, you’re on a mission–a quest, in other words. What Star Wars gives us is a series of quests that have more meaning than a paper or a long walk. Star Wars does combine the best of adventure, romance, mysticism, science, and unexpected plot turns, but what really makes it special are the quests the story focuses on. Luke, a farm boy longing to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a Jedi; Leia, the princess, bravely leading a rebellion against an evil Empire; and Han, the scoundrel, just out to keep his neck intact and his wallet full of credits at the end of the day. The success or failure of their quests, unlike your paper, matter to everyone around them. If the Rebel Alliance succeeds, the course of history changes drastically, and thousands of worlds will be freed from Imperial tyranny. Or, the Empire could crush them and then extend the grip of the Dark Side even further. Everything (almost literally; the Empire can blow up planets, you know!) hangs in the balance of their quests. Lives, planets, the balance of the Force–it all depends on them. Your paper, on the other hand, makes up a fraction of one of your many grades, which in ten or twenty years you will not even remember.

Just in case you’re not convinced, watch this, and just try to tell me it’s not awesome:

Remember: the Force will be with you, always.

Dacia

Edit: I completely forgot to cite the video. Thanks Prof. Hall 😀

Moosebutter, comp. Star Wars An A Capella Tribute to John Williams. Perfs. Corey Vidal. 2002.

America the Checkerboard

The LA (and actually the whole world) of Snow Crash is a place where people are separate from each other. America is not so much a melting pot as it is a chess or checkerboard–once, people mixed, but now, they all have restrictions on where and how they can move. “…Hiro is black, or at least part black. Can’t take him into New South Africa. And because Y.T. is a Cauc, they can’t go to Metazania. (Stephenson, 83)” Even jobs have taken on the characteristics of traditional ethnic groups–Taxi drivers speak Taxilinga, and accept no one into their ranks who does not also speak it; and as Y.T. says, “…the longtime status of skateboarders as an oppressed ethnic group mean[t] that by now all of them [we]re escape artists to some degree. (Stephenson, 77)” In short, everyone in LA has an identity, based on their genes, jobs, skills, house (or lack thereof) and these things dictate who they speak to, where they can go, and how the Snow Crash drug affects them. Coming from Hawaii, I couldn’t really identify with his depiction of race; true separation of ethnicities is something that is hard to imagine on the island chain (though I will admit it was both a plausible and scary thought). I will say that skin color automatically identifies you as one of three things: Native (which really just means you COULD be native–Filipinos, Samoans, and Micronesians, for example, certainly didn’t colonize the place like the Hawaiians did), Asian (of which there are two classes–Islander Asians and FOBs, the Japanese tourists who are very, very easy to identify), or Haoli (aka, white. Haoli, which means foreigner, is often used to somewhat familiarly but condescendingly describe mainland culture, white tourists, and activities seen as ‘white’). These stereotypes are known everywhere and there are many jokes and assumptions that go along with them. More than once, I have been mistaken for a tourist when out shopping with my mother, even though I’ve lived on Oahu all my life, but it’s never bothered me; rather, I take it as part of the harmless Haoli stereotype. Races mix in Hawaii like they do nowhere else. Ask almost anyone what their race is, and they’ll give you a list that most likely encompasses at least three or four different ethnicities. It’s hard to explain, but back home, race is something that you’re proud of and yet doesn’t matter. “I’m Chinese/Samoan.” “I’m Hawaiian/Indian/French.” “I’m Okinawan/Irish/Korean.” We poke fun at each other’s ethnicities, with those identifications of skin color and race, but they’ve never gotten in the way of a friendship. The total segregation present in Snow Crash was a scary thought. If it was there, I wouldn’t know half the people I do, and even more of them would never have existed in the first place.

Gender depictions in Snow Crash seem a lot less scary. The two main female characters, Y.T. and Juanita, are very different women, and like today’s women, show that you can either accept or reject the notions society gives you about what you should be. Y.T. is very much a product of her society; she sees nothing morally wrong with the way men look at her, or even with the fact that Raven desires and sleeps with a 15 year old girl. She is a girl of the street and goes to jail, breaks out, escapes mad taxi drivers, and makes deliveries as a Kourier, navigating the world of the franchises with ease because that is her world–she was born into it and she embraced it. Juanita, on the other hand, has rejected the traditions now present in franchised-LA. She is a true and devout Catholic when the Reverend Wayne’s Pearly Gates have turned Christianity into a franchised chain, complete with neon Elvises; and she is, in essence, her own person–working on Metaverse facial designs when no one else believed it would go anywhere, divorcing Da5id, despite his success, money, and power, and even discovering the Snow Crash plot–Juanita is her own person, thinking outside the box and using her knowledge and skills to save the world (if only “for a while”). I identify with both women–Juanita, strong, smart, independent, and Y.T., also strong, smart, and independent, but youthful, and headstrong where Juanita is wise and careful. They’re very different people, at different times in their lives, with different backgrounds and responses to the world they live in, but parts of them fit my image of myself; I think everyone can agree that we feel both influenced by society (like Y.T.), but that we also reject parts of it and stand apart (like Juanita). And they show that in Snow Crash, there are many paths you can take, no matter your sex.

Dacia

Weaving the Threads Together

So far, I have played through almost all of the Prologue, but I have not yet traveled to the Shire to begin the part of the journey that follows in Frodo’s footsteps. As an Elf, I began my experiences in LOTRO hundreds of years before the events of the Fellowship, fighting not against Orcs and Sauron, but against Dwarves. They had attacked Edhelion, the city where my character, Elyon, lived, and I was able to take part in the battle and witness the destruction of her home. Then, the story moved forward to the ‘present’ day–the time period where LotR takes place. A group of elves, including Elyon, had returned to the ruins of Edhelion, hoping to bring back to the place some of its former glory, but after finding some dwarven weapons among the goblins scurrying about the place, she was dispatched to the court of the dwarf Frerir, a friend of the Elves (but not of the Dourhands, another dwarven faction that ruled the area).  After helping the dwarves with various preparations for winter (such as cutting lumber and skinning auroch hides) and weeding out some problematic inhabitants that the Dourhands were not taking care of (mainly poisonous Skorgrim’s Bloom flowers and goblins), Elyon was able to meet up with Elrohir, a son of Elrond, who had discovered that the Dourhands were attempting to bring Skorgrim, their dead leader, back to life in exchange for allying themselves with the forces of Angmar. Elyon joined forces with Frerir’s dwarves to stop this from happening. Tolkien only knows what comes next…

Overall, I felt that the experiences my elf went through were very relatable to the world of LotR, with a few exceptions. First of all, the fact that Elyon was present at the destruction of Edhelion really made her feel like a real elf, who would have memories from hundreds of years back (as Elrond does of the first defeat of Sauron). The NPCs (non-player characters) were all concerned about the land, as elves are, and though they gave me tasks to do, the tasks (like clearing out the slugs from the pool) made sense until I ‘discovered’ the dead goblins with the dwarven axes. After the journey to Frerir’s court, however, the side quests made very little sense. If there was such urgency in finding out what the Dourhand dwarves were up to, why would I chop firewood and make auroch jerky? The dwarves would be perfectly capable of such tasks themselves, and if Elyon’s mission were really so urgent, she would not be asked to do such mundane jobs. So, that sort of broke the nice storyline I was playing out, though I did see the need for her to get experience fighting monsters and for her to level up a bit before leaving the Prologue for the ‘real world.’ The rules of the game interfered with the suspension of disbelief I was experiencing at the time. Or, not exactly the rules, but the necessary mechanics of playing a game interfered with the flow of the story and thus with my suspension of disbelief.

At first, there was almost no connection to the events of LotR, but as Elyon progressed in the storyline I began to see more and more threads connecting her journey to the one depicted in the book. At first, the only similarities were the fact that elves and dwarves had ancient grudges, and that the elves were struggling with living in Middle Earth (as evidenced by the sad attempt to rebuild Edhelion). Basically, she was living in the same world as Frodo and the Fellowship, and that was it. Then, there was Elrohir, seen only a couple of times in the book, but still a part of it, and the alliance of the Dourhand dwarves with Angmar–a province of evil, allied with Mordor and home of the Witch-King in LotR. So, as the journey went on, Elyon’s seemingly separate path began to merge with that of the Fellowship–a common desire to see the Free Peoples survive and to defeat the forces of darkness. The quest to stop the Dourhands shows the largest leap yet towards the merging of the storylines of Elyon and the Fellowship, as confronting any sort of force from Angmar would directly relate to confronting the forces of Mordor. Now, I just have to keep playing and find out what’s next on Elyon’s journey through the Third Age of Middle Earth.

Dacia

Nightmare Chess and the Hall of Heroes

Though I think of myself as a ‘gamer,’ I have never played very many arcade games. My experience is limited to the Space Invaders machine at the Dave & Busters back home, and one highly unsuccessful attempt to save my cities while playing Missile Command. On the other hand, I have lots of experience with board games. From Monopoly to Nightmare Chess to backgammon to the War of the Ring, board games have been a part of my life since I was very young. And equally present there is another, very different type of game: the online games, those notorious MMOs that so many love to play to the exclusion of all else.

While both are enjoyable, they present very different experiences to their players. The first, obviously, is the real life interaction present in any board game. When you play a game of chess, or Monopoly, or any other traditional board game, you sit across the table from your opponent (s) and interact with them directly–you speak to them, watch them roll dice, and unnerve them when you study the cards you’re holding.  In addition, the vast majority of board games pit players head to head–they are competing directly against one another to win the game. In gamer vocabulary, board games are purely PvP–player versus player.

In contrast, an online game presents no inherent direct interaction. You can’t physically see anyone else who’s playing, or talk to them (with the advent of applications like TeamSpeak and Ventrilo this has changed, though). Players instead interact through their avatars–the characters they create to play in the game. Though the character represents the player in the game’s world and can interact with other avatars and the game’s environment, the avatar is not real and does not compare equally to the face-to-face interaction present in board games. Lastly, online games in general do not force players to play against each other. Even in World of Warcraft, where the conflict between the Horde and Alliance is central to both the world and storyline, players can opt not to fight other players. Most MMOs present head-to-head competition as an option through PvP servers and arenas; however players can instead choose to fight the challenges presented by the game designers in the game (and indeed must if they wish to truly experience the full game, eg. leveling up and completing endgame content). Players are also encouraged to work together through the forming of groups, guilds, and friendships to beat the game. Thus, online games are not primarily PvP focused; instead they present both PvE (player versus environment) and PvP as options for their players, with most of their content being PvE.

Furthermore, board games are almost always rules-based emergence games, where no ‘heavy’ fiction is presented to the player . Board games sometimes provide a ‘light’ fiction along with their rules, like the tycoon fantasy of Monopoly or the battle for Middle Earth presented in War of the Ring, but these are thin veneers and nowhere is the player of a board game subject to the same ‘heavy’ fiction found in online games. Board games focus instead on simple rules that nevertheless provide variations in every game played. Thus, they are emergence games. There is nothing fixed about a board game except the rules–any twists and turns, and especially the outcome of the game, are determined by the players themselves.

Online games are almost the opposite. They rely heavily on fiction, though rules are important as well, and are generally progression based. The fiction of an online game is almost certainly its most important component. The player must suspend at least some disbelief, and enter the world created by the game designers. In this world, there are quests to do, villages to save, mythical swords to forge, and worlds to conquer. But, in any online game you’ll find that there’s a certain order to these many tasks. Before you can conquer the world, you have to forge the sword, but to do that you’ll have to save the village, but before you can save the village you’ll have to do some errands for the townspeople to gain their trust. Online games present a story, a predetermined path for you to walk, and are therefore strongly fiction and progression based. You can only do the quests they allow you to do, and deviating from the storyline isn’t really possible–should the hero die halfway through, he’ll be resurrected.  If he fails the final boss fight and doesn’t destroy the evil wizard, he can always try again.  There is no emergence aspect to the PvE side of the game. The final outcome doesn’t depend on your actions or the actions of your opponent, like it does in a board game. In an online game, the story always ends the same way.

But, like a board game, an online game could not function without rules. Not only are there rules governing how a player moves about, interacts with objects, and communicates, online games restrict a player’s actions in-game. For example, in Star Wars Galaxies you cannot kill Darth Vader, and in LOTRO Gandalf is equally immortal. Killing either character would drastically change the story each game tells–and so, you cannot attack them. In both types of game, rules play an important part–for indeed, what is a game without rules?

The only real emergence aspect of an online game is its PvP side. In an arena, players learn a set of rules (eg. Movement, special attacks, etc) and play against each other. There’s no story, and though the fiction is heavier than any board game’s, it’s still lighter than the PvE aspect of the game. This is where board games and online games ‘intersect’–in the PvP arena. Here, players of both games have a similar experience in many ways, as some of the trademark characteristics of board games described above display themselves in the virtual world of the online game.

While both the board game and the online game are very different in many ways, they are both fun and enjoyable for the many players who take up their challenges. Their differences merely help to make the world of gaming the dynamic and multifaceted place it is.

So, anyone up for a game of Nightmare Chess? If not, we can always head out to the Hall of Heroes.

Dacia

PS: I totally forgot to post this on time with the math test and everything today….forgive me!! >.< I had it ready yesterday and everything. Oh well, that’s life…