Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Your Thirty-sixth Assignment: Against the Grain

You're not like other Imperials, Cypher.

No, Kaliyo, I'm not.

Why?  Why do you care?  Why go out of your way?

Kaliyo, I believe in the Empire.  I stand for its people.  We will save them when the Sith burn it all to the ground.

Lock and load, agents!  Today, I was perusing lonomonkey's blog, Screaming Monkeys.  He has an interesting post today on being a dark Republic player.  It got me thinking; I tend to play against type.  Why?  Do I have 'special snowflake' disease or is it something more?

I like being a special snowflake.  I like being one of 'the few, the proud.'  In WoW, I started as a priest because ... well I didn't know any better.  After I ran my priest for a while, I branched out into hunters, warriors, etc etc.  The first character I really put any time into after my priest was my death knight.  I played him to 80 and began raiding; it's then I started to notice things.  There were a lot of death knights out there.  Like, a LOT.  That's when I started to feel uncomfortable.  Most death knights at the time went Frost for DPS ... I felt that I should go Blood (and I did).  Sure, it affected my performance, but it was acceptable to me.  Granted, I wasn't a very good raider at the time so my spec was the least of my worries, but I at least felt secure that my death knight was special.  Not only was he a troll (the rarest race in the game at the time, though dwarves have usurped them), he was the least played spec too.  Special snowflake!

Thanks to some guild drama, I had the chance to reroll a new character and start over with a new guild.  I intentionally went in search of the rarest combo I could find.  After looking at the stats online (at some sites like wow-progress and others) I arrived at my answer; troll shaman.  And not only troll shaman, troll elemental shaman.  In Wrath of the Lich King, shaman had been nerfed into oblivion (after dominating a good chunk of The Burning Crusade).  Most players had abandoned their shaman for the overpowered paladin, leaving it the 'red-headed stepchild' class.  Most shaman couldn't get into raids at all.  This intrigued me.

And thus, Neverender the troll shaman was born.  I instantly felt at home being the odd man out (by choice).  As I ambled along towards 80, I constantly lamented the fact that shaman were so underpowered while secretly reveling that I had bloodlust and spirit wolves and was, for all intents and purposes, an unstoppable killing machine.  When raiding came around, I quickly found a spot and did my best; elemental was really quite underpowered in the endgame and it showed; I was ok with it though.  There just weren't many shaman around and of those, most were enhancement.  I felt special!  Later in the expansion when enhancement faultered and elemental became more powerful, I switched to a new character (two, actually) and tore through raids with them as well.  By the end of my playing career, I had leveled three shaman to max level, had 2 more on the way, and was contemplating another.

Fast forward to The Old Republic.  I picked the Agent two years before the game came out; it looked complex.  It didn't have a lightsaber.  It used cover.  All of these were hallmarks for my type of class; relatively unplayed (and it has borne true in-game).  While beta-testing, I got a chance to get a good look at the agent's storyline ... and I was impressed.  In my mind's eye, I saw the agent as the defender of the Empire, the savior of the common people.  The Sith played their political games and catered to their own whims, but my Agent was a hero of the people.  He did what was right and believed in the mission of the Empire.  For the first time, I was taking an RP approach to my character.  Granted, most agents I run into are dark side, but mine is light side ... for a reason.  It's not that I want to be a special snowflake (at least not completely), but this is who my character is.  He's a patriot.  He's a hero.  He's an Imperial.  And you know what?  It felt good to be a hero.  The game rewarded emotionally for making this choice.  In WoW, I sought to be different because I wanted to be unique.  In TOR, I sought to be different because the game gave me the option to do so, and made it an enriching experience.  I don't have to make myself feel unique because my character *is* unique.  He's the sum of all my decisions from day one to now.  He's chosen his own path, carved his own legacy.  All agents may wind up at the same place, but it's the 'getting there' that makes it special.

Damn, this game is good.

Fly safe, shoot straight.  For the glory of the Empire!


  1. I love the way you think! =D You could play the same class twice and have a completely different experience. This game really is good.

    Awesome blog, will add it to my blogroll!

    1. Thanks for the kind words! Don't mind my salty language every now and then ...