I realise now that I left last December in mysterious circumstances, and I wanted to take an opportunity to discuss why I departed, why I came back, and my impressions on my return.
I want to preface this with a brief thanks to everyone who said hello and welcomed me back. I *have* missed you guys a lot, actually, and no matter what we'll always have Paris -- I mean. Lithmore. I have fond memories of all of the RP I did on Vincent and Blanchefleur. I also think that volunteering in a group or for really anything like TI is often a thankless thing, and so specifically thanks to the admin/staff team too. I want to make it clear that I really do firmly believe that the only reason someone would volunteer their time and energy to being staff on something like TI is that they are passionate about the game and that I really admire and appreciate that.
And if nothing else, I hope this long effort post explains where I've been, what I've been up to, and shows that after all this time I still think that TI is something worth being passionate about.
So, why leave? I left last year for multiple reasons. Some were due to feeling like TI didn't quite meet my expectations, and perhaps *couldn't*. But honestly? I was going through some shit. I'd suffered a bereavement of a young and close friend who died suddenly and unexpectedly of Septic shock on a day we were supposed to be spending together in the park celebrating her recent (32nd) birthday. I hadn't seen her in months because of COVID and hanging out for her birthday was literally all we could talk about in the lead-up. The next thing I know, she's dead. SO. Yeah. I was a bit of a wreck. My health had been getting steadily WORSE over the time I played TI. I literally passed out once, at seeming random, and smacked my head against the corner of a wall, requiring an ER visit. Turns out I had untreated type II diabetes at 28 years old. I also had this pretty terrible ordeal with my work, not just in December but, uh. Over a 2 year period as a new manager basically decided that I was a poor fit as I was suffering from workplace bullying. Rather than do anything about the problematic and toxic behaviour from colleagues, he kept giving me extra tasks to prove myself. I was being performance managed to death -- almost literally. I'm pretty certain he thought he was helping, but, you know. Was shit. So yeaaah I ended up being bullied/quit a position that had once been basically my life's aspiration. Things were NOT great for me at the time, which meant that I just couldn't derive enjoyment from TI.
The GOOD news is that I actually, you know, focused on looking after myself. I've been able to put my diabetes in remission through diet and exercise and a LOT of therapy. With a focus on improving my health, I actually had the neat side effect of losing some 30kg+, but the best thing has been how much energy I now have. I can't tell you how much HEALTHIER I feel, now that my blood is actually blood and not congealed sugar syrup. Everyone has commented how much happier I seem, and you know what? Yeah. I am. Today, I'm also pretty hopeful/optimistic about my career potential. I decided to go back to university and study a Bachelor of IT, majoring in cybersecurity and software development. I've completed my first year. Almost 11 months in, and I'm happier, healthier, and feeling more fulfilled than I've felt in probably 3 or 4 years.
So why did I come back? The latest batch of Australia's COVID lockdowns, which, while necessary and worthwhile, has really fucked with my ability to pursue my first and true love: LARPing. A bunch of events are just cancelled until January, and I'm really craving the sorts of immersive RP interaction that you get at a LARP. If you've never tried it, you should if you get the opportunity! It's a blast. My opinion is that LARPing and RPI MUs share a LOT of similarities, both how games are structured and, at a high level concept, *mechanics.* Sure, a mud is digital and a LARP is not. But one of TI's greatest strengths is how well the mechanics of the game enable player characters to interact and fairly arbitrate the actions/conflict of two players without requiring the intervention of admins for every little thing. Many of the LARPs I've played have attempted to achieve SIMILAR things while being in person.
Another reason I returned to TI specifically and not some other MU is that I heard that dual guilding was in. NOW. This made me actually pause and go "oh, that's actually something I wanted for literally ever" and so, yeah. Thanks for adding that in. Truth be told, I didn't even THINK that I'd make use of the mechanic, but the fact that work had been done / achieved on something that I cared about was enough to make me consider whether I should look and see what else had changed.
I haven't really seen what else has changed yet, unfortunately.
I, uh, was actually pretty dang shocked when I was able to log in on Vincent. As I think I already mentioned, I'd been inactive 11 months. My other characters didn't work when I tried to log in on them. I log in, into the deathbox. And perhaps it's the 11 months inactive thing making any message left to me drop off the boards, but there wasn't so much as a note of explanation as to why that was.
Now. I'd not intended on coming back and playing Vincent. I'd assumed he'd get wiped for inactivity. My first assumption was that maybe I'd got involved in something back when I played (some crime, some intrigue, something *I* did) and as a result of the aftermath of that, the Reeves had Vincent hung or he'd EVEN been pyred. I kinda went "well, I must have forgotten that I'd done something or been wanted or something like that." I'm not going to lie, it was actually really shocking and weirded me out to discover that it'd been decided to wrap Vincent up with a pdeath unrelated to any actions that I'd taken as a player, except for I suppose that Vincent was now an ex-Tenebrae as I was inactive and had advised that I didn't think I'd be returning. My kneejerk initial reaction was actually initially paranoia and just... concern that this was done for OOC reasons as it didn't make (and still doesn't) make sense to me. Obviously, I've calmed the frak down. I don't actually think that there was any malice on the part of anyone and I'm glad that his charbit is still around as I think I will write a post mortem character help file thing once I've had time to gather my thoughts and being able to access my cnotes will be helpful for this. But yeah. It's still weird and unexpected to come back to, sorry. On a positive note, I am flattered to hear that he had a funeral and to see his name in a helpfile. So thank you for doing that.
But aside, I would actually value hearing why it was necessary / what the justification for the pkill was and since I've made my thoughts public, I would be comfortable if they're shared here.
Full disclosure: When I'd confirmed that there was no OOC issue with me, the player, my first question was "could Vincent have faked his death." I'll be honest, I'm disappointed that this was met with a no. This disappointment is probably enhanced because I admit I still don't have the full picture of the justification of why he needed to be wrapped up, or the official perspective of what happened. The perspective I've been given is that the body that everyone SAW and BURIED was a body that had been picked in a brine barrel, so could have been a cadaver that was faked. The justification given that people put a lot of effort into the funeral and such just.. also.. I dunno. It fell flat. It's made me really feel like he ended up not as a character, but a prop. Which is a very unpleasant and strange way to feel, as I didn't intend on coming back to play Vincent. I didn't really expect to be thinking about him at all, really. I spoke to other players, asking if I should try and see if it was possible for him to have faked his death. They told me that it seemed reasonable, IC. But equally, they weren't surprised OOC that it was denied.
And I hate to say it, it definitely feeds into the narrative of "every request gets a no" for me.
When I left TI, I was starting to have a feeling that there was only an illusion of player agency in the game. Now, I don't think that's necessarily true. I could go into WHY I felt like that, but this post has got super long already. But you have to understand that I bring it up because finding out that Vincent was killed off, not from admins initially but from other players, really kinda just.. made me remember that fear that I had previously.
It might have changed, or maybe I'm just misremembering. But I swear there used to be an option to pay QP to play a character that had sunsetted again. Now. I have no QP as before I left I spent them all on a mage that I was going to play before realising that I really just needed a break and to focus on RL. I think that's partially why I feel so shocked that, uh, he was turned into a sad murder victim lamp. But then when I mentioned this in passing to someone else who used to play TI, they told me that they're not surprised as other people have had inactive characters end up turned into a mage and then pyred as part of someone else's backstory.
There's a warning when you play TI that it's non-consensual RP. That stuff can happen to your character without you wanting it to happen. I enjoy this because, in theory, it makes games more exciting with that element of risk. But I can only explain finding out that my character was turned into a prop in lines with this high level concept about how player characters should be treated in TI. So yeah, my thoughts are now that this is part of what enhances gripes myself and others have around player agency, because honestly? It doesn't feel like I had any part in it. Because I didn't. I was gone. Should I have had any part in it? I was gone. I wasn't coming back. I don't think I would have come back even if I knew. But here, today? Not getting to experience Vincent's cool death scene is.. well. I won't say it's WORSE than him fading into irrelevance. Because, yeah, I am a whore for attention and the fact that his name is in help files does ease the blow a little. But.. I mean. He was still a sexy sad dead lamp, in the end. And that's super weird.
I *thought* I was okay with the concept of characters dying and such -- I've had long-running PCs die before, not in TI but in trpgs and elsemu. Sometimes in unsatisfying ways. But this really blindsided me.
So while as a good point, I do think I will sooner or later actually come back and see the changes that have occurred in TI and give you guys another shot, while I'm feeling negative about the circumstances around this plot involving Vincent I'm going to take a step back again aha.
The Good, The Bad, and the Weird
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