Monday, September 15, 2008

Warhammer and Turtles in Need of Therapy

Those who've been following this blog may have noticed that I haven't posted for over a week now. It's alright I'm not dead, just dead to the world. The reason being is that the MMORPG Warhammer Online launched their servers just yesterday. Prior to that I was beta testing for them.

Many people may not be familiar with the Warhammer genre. It started out as a very intricate tabletop warfare game in the early 1980s in the UK and has just gotten bigger and bigger ever since. They have developed quite a following in the US over the last decade with the publication of many high fantasy and science fiction novels that follow the characters throughout the Warhammer universe. They diversified their games as well, introducing a futuristic science fiction version called Warhammer 40,000 as well as many others since then.

I have been hooked since I first discovered Warhammer almost 12 years ago. I bought a couple of the novels by accident and after reading them all from cover to cover in the space of a day, I had to know more. I bought the codexes, learned the rules, found a local tournament, and entered my newfound plastic and pewter army. Needless to say I got my tail kicked inside of half an hour, but I still enjoyed the game very much. What I really loved was the attention to detail and devotion that the writers, artists, and designers put into the gaming system as well as all the peripherals. It's dark and gritty. There are dozens of factions working at cross purposes. The characters are entertaining and lifelike. What's best is that there's so much room for addition and improvement. The way all their doctrine and backstory is designed, any writer can come along and make his own contribution.

They actively encourage such contribution as well, which is why I'm working on a standalone novel taking place in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Coincidentally, it should be complete by the year 40,000 as well. So far it's only for my own enjoyment, though a very real possibility that it will published upon completion exists. Until then I still need to make a living. It's hard to work writing all day long and then sit down and make myself write on my off time for my own enjoyment. It's really easy to burn out that way.

In any case, suffice to say, I've been waiting for the completion of Warhammer Online for 3 years now. I cannot express my dissapointment at the game once it was released. During development Mythic promised 4 classes of character were to be playable for each of the 6 races in the game. They say that in order to meet their own deadline, they had to cut one class from 4 of the game's races. I have been waiting 3 years to play as the characters that they cut at the last minute! What's worse, they're lying to the public. Screenshots and playable demos of the characters that were cut were disseminated over a full year ago. Any mention of this has since been removed from their official website, though personal websites will still have this data if you look hard enough. They had all the game's classes ready to go almost a full year ago!

Why cut them then? Simple. Money. The developers know that Warhammer is a known and much loved title, over a million preorders were made in the first week alone. In order to make extra cash off of these people, myself included, Mythic has deliberately removed portions of gameplay from the online experience so that they can be sold as an expansion pack in the near future. Doing this ensures that they get paid twice.

As much as I hate them for it, the game is still incredibly fun and addictive. Many people are saying that it's another World of Warcraft Clone. I disagree. The players are knowledgable, courteous, and well spoken. The crafts are simple and pay immediate dividends. Travel is more easily expedited. Better yet, each class of each race, though performing equivalent overall functions, is unique; possessing their own traits and style of play that ensures playing the same class doesn't get old.

With that said I will get on to the point of this post. I'd like to tell a little story, all of which is comepletely true. Today I went to see my psychiatrist, as I do every few months to get refills on my medications, mainly anti-anxiety meds. Better living through chemistry and all that. It was a pleasant visit as I've known the therapist for half my life and he's always taken a genuine interest in my life and welfare. In any case I'm out the door of the office, which is part of an outdoor concrete pavilion in the middle of Melbourne, a pretty good sized city by Florida standards.

I hear an odd hiss to my right as I take a step out the door, and freeze, thinking it might be a snake. Snakes are all over the place here in Florida. Most of them are non-venemous, the only ones you have to watch out for are the Coral Snake and Rattle Snake. However, even the non-venemous snakes will attack and leave a nasty bite when they've a mind to.

I look down and see a gigantic turtle sitting there! This sucker was huge, easily two feet long and a foot wide. It hisses at me and retracts up into it's shell and I'm standing there speechless. It's sitting there, not moving, and I'm looking around wondering where the heck it came from. The pavilion is no where near any empty lots or marshes. The nearest retention pond is more than a mile distant past freeway traffic. Even the sidewalk is raised a half foot above street level, well above it's ability to climb. The nearest ramp is over a hundred yards away too. How the heck could this turtle be here?

I've still the got the office door open and the receptionist, who I've known for 5 or 6 years, asks what's wrong. I turn to her and say "There's a turtle on the walkway".

She looks at me, eyes narrowed and asks "What medications are you on again?"

"Hah-hah, very funny" I say. "Seriously, there's a huge turtle just sitting here, come look".

She comes out from behind her desk and steps around me. As soon as the turtle sees her it hisses and snaps at her, though it didn't have the snout of a snapping turtle. She nearly jumps out of her skin and then laughs at herself for being so skittish.

"Could it be someone's pet?" she asks.

"I don't think so. Look" I said, pointing to it's shell. "It's covered with grass and lichens".

"Well what should we do about it?" she asks.

"Set it out of the way of the door, I guess" is my reply.

It was sitting right in front of the front door of the office next to the psychiatrist's which happens to be a speech therapy clinic. As I go to pick up the turtle a small boy comes to look out the glass panels of the speech clinic door. He points at the the turtle, eyes wide, and starts stuttering "tu-t-t-t-t-tur-turt". I stand there, waiting for him to finish... and he never does. I goes on and on for about two minutes before me and the receptionist turn away and set the turtle inside, trying to hold it in as long as we could. We go back into the psychiatrist's empty waiting room and bust out laughing. I nearly passed out from lack of breath.

It would've been mean to laugh at someone for stuttering, it's not something done deliberately after all. But there was something about the situation that was so absurd that we couldn't help ourselves.

After about a minute the receptionist is slumped in her chair and trying to get her breath back when the psychiatrist walks into the waiting room. He's gotta be the most calm and collected guy in the world, not serious, but not the type to joke either. He looks at the two of us and deadpans "Alright, which one of you stole my prescription pad?".

We howled at that. When we calmed down long enough to explain what had happened he chuckled, which was the first time I'd ever seen that, and suggested "Maybe the turtle had an appointment with the speech therapist. He might've been lisping, not hissing"

Needless to say that started us going for the third and final time before I said goodbye and drove home. I don't know why, but the strangest things tend to happen whenever I go to see that guy.

1 comment:

Joilene said...

So you can laugh! ;-)