Magic. That’s what all of gaming is to me. Here are zillions of lines of code that can translate to a character I can move freely around an environment and actually play a game. For others, it may be a technological wonder and some may even understand the science of how it works. I understand it too…Magic.
After being a part of Arkship 2013 this past weekend. After getting a tour of the Carbine studio and seeing the technical side of how some things are created. Even after watching someone create and place something, still I firmly say “Magic!”
Yep, I was there for an event I will long remember. Especially since this was the first time I’d ever attended something like this for a game. Now keep in mind, I cannot share everything, but I can tell you about something that may hopefully paint a picture for you. A little slice of what it was like for me.
The place was in Southern California in a nice conference room. The time was Saturday evening. Food and drink were nearby or at our fingertips, as we were given the VIP treatment. Before I even had a chance to look around, someone was there, asking if I had a question or needed help with anything.
Karaoke was going on in the background as I returned to the bank of computers to play once more. Now why is Karaoke important? Because of the particular song that was sung a few minutes after I saw this giant blue thing with little players attacking.
Naturally I ran to join, being careful to pay attention to a World Boss I didn’t know. Mechanics of a new game, spells I was almost completely clueless about, but determined to mash those buttons and do my healer-at-heart best to DPS this giant. Metal Maw. That was his name. Big and blue and very, very strong.
When I died the first time, I used my brief seconds wisely and became aware of my surroundings. Drew/Geldarion was to my immediate right. Carla beyond him. Across and catty corner from me were two of the devs. Everyone’s eyes were focused on their screens.
The song changed and I heard, “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?” A few more seconds of listening with my headphones on one ear only, I realized that this was a version Freddie Mercury never imagined. But it was an oddly appropriate version, as well, and sung by three of the devs, I thought, with a quick glance over my shoulder. (Names redacted to protect the innocent…okay so they aren’t so innocent, but I won’t name names. But only because I don’t remember.)
So, one ear has the game sounds and one has “Bohemian Rhapsody”. I returned my attention to the screen within seconds and the time I spent looking around was much shorter than my writing or telling it can convey.
Back in I went. Fingers poised over keys and mouse. Careful to move and be “situationally aware”. Mash keys, dodge, run and attempt to do all at the same time. Almost dead, but there was a heal! And I was back in the game before I died.
Yay! We have a healer! I thought.
“Mama, just killed a man” came the words from the Karaoke group.
Yes, and we are going to kill you, Metal Maw! I thought. Just before I wondered if that was actually Metal Maw’s verse and he was taking a perverse glee at one of our number briefly dropping.
No more time for idle thoughts as the health bar on the giant steadily, but slowly, moved down. We could do this. We really could! With our little level six or seven characters. After I rezzed and came back, that is. Well, several times. Each time I died, I had a few precious seconds to feel the tension in the room ratcheting up and my glances around were brief, brief moments.
Back in the fight and mash more buttons, more running, dodging and picking myself up and going back in. More heals coming my way.
Death Number Four. Metal Maw’s health was about five percent. A sliver of green. Don’t kill him until I get there! The thought goes through my head and I may even have said it aloud, but there is a palpable excitement and fifteen plus people are focused on one thing. Bringing this blue monster down and making him dead, dead, dead.
The music is in the background, but no time to listen by then. I made it back with time to spare and I was there and alive for the kill.
A cheer goes around the room. You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all had that feeling when we bring down a new or difficult boss for the first time. We hit our push-to-talk keys and cheer at each other over our vent or mumble or teamspeak clients, sharing our joy.
Let me tell you, no matter how cool that feeling is during gameplay, it cannot possibly compare to being in the same room with your fellow players. The excitement as I got to look in eyes shining with self-satisfied glee and accomplishment. Devs, as well as fellow guests. A shared experience. A feeling of euphoria as we gathered for our victory picture. Not a screenshot around a body this time, but a picture of those players behind the controls and screens who killed a World Boss, no wipes.
Can you say it with me? “Magic!”