Ever have one of those days? BBJones’ vision for Canada West was a good one, a worthy successor to ArticFires. It should be noted that ArticFires self-destructed because the galactic war server software was far too sucky to handle anything on the scale of, you know, galactic war. Canada West adds variable victory conditions and the like to the mix. Now not only is the server software too horrible to support what’s needed, but you are relying on players to be smart enough to (a) understand the nuances and the bugs in the game and act accordingly, and (b) play for the victory conditions. In short, you need players who can read and understand rules, browse forums, and do the right thing. Stop laughing. Did I mention Canada West is an open, everyone welcome server? I said stop laughing.
I DON’ NEED NO STEENKING OBJECTIVES
The nice thing about having victory conditions on your server is that you have something to go for above and beyond hack and slash land grabs. The bad thing is that you can fail due to ignoramuses running around botching up your race’s objectives. This happens all the time on CW, especially in the most popular races, mandated by television: Feds and Klingons.
Every time I get drafted by some newbie running around in his fleet of 3 police ships or what have you, I try and steer them to the light. Yesterday I explained the necessity to alt-f4 when missions get weird no less than 6 times to players. Some players at least pay lip service: "Okay, sure I’ll go look at your forums… I guess I’ll alt-f4, if you really think it’s the right thing…" About half the time, the conversation goes like this:
Me: "Hey, you know this mission you drafted me into if counter to our victory conditions."
Me: "We’re getting our asses kicked down south. You could go down there and
eat some bullets for usget drafted by the enemy and kill them."
Them: "Nah, I want to get more prestige so I can get a (battleship/carrier/yet another police boat)."
Me: "Okay, I can see that, but you know attacking were you are is going to make us lose right?"
Them: "I just play for fun. This server has a lot of people."
Me: "Well if you want PvP…"
Them: "Want to hang around and help me do some Ambush the Enemy? I keep losing."
Or else something like this:
Me: "Are you registered on the Fed forum?"
Me: "Would you like the url?"
Or maybe this:
Me: "Dude our ally (who has a fleet of 3 ships and was heading to the front when he got drafted by this nitwit) just exploded for no reason. Let’s alt-f4 out so he doesn’t lose his ships."
Them: "I’m going to flip this economy 1 hex!"
These players are everywhere, players who don’t check forums, players who don’t know and don’t care about game decorum, players who… well, you know, suck. Everywhere, on every server. In general I blame the crappy network/server code for allowing stupid things like ship loss from esc/forfeit and the like, but in this day and age how can you play a multiplayer game with well documented bugs and not know about them? One person in a great while, yes, maybe they just got home from Best Buy and set out to become Captain Kirk. They can learn. I refuse to believe that 50% of everyone on the server (this is how many I run into on average who are ignoramuses) just got home from Best Buy.
Now look at Canada West. "High concept server," if you can apply that term to Dynarverse 2. Variable victory conditions, lots at stake, something to do besides swarm. It’s sort of like meticulously setting up a pen and paper RPG in your home, keeping track of long term goals and conditions as the GM. Now imagine you set up your game, open your front door, and hang a big goddamn sign out front that says, "GAME IN HERE MUCH FUN." Your house is now full of 200 people you don’t know trying to play a game they don’t understand. So much for all your preparation.
This point hits particularly hard today, possibly the single worst day I’ve ever had on Dynaverse 2. Come with me now into my chamber of horrors…
"WHY STICK AROUND IN GAME? I ALREADY RAN AWAY!"
Enter patrol mission. I have some useless ally like a hospital ship or something. Enemy is "scar" in an D7 hull of some sort with a D6 AI ally. We say our hellos, and a few minutes later, I smack scar’s ship with some opportunistic fire, signalling the beginning of that greatest and most subtle of SFC2 tactics: running around at speed 31.
He drops mines. I drop his shield and start cutting. He runs for the border. I follow. The AI is still duking it out. He leaves the map. I turn back to finish the AI off, and what do I see…
Granted, this was exceptionally dumb… I started the mission. If I finished it, he would be out his ship, instead of just making repairs. I thought a lot about this, as pissed off as I was, and eventually alt-f4′d. "Oh, maybe he just crashed or something." Riiiiight. Well, it’s only one mission, right?
MOBILE STARBASE AND USELESS SHIP AVAILABLE, JUST GET DRAFTED BY AN IDIOT
So then I run back to a planet, hoping to get a base. Part of the victory conditions for most races involve establishing starbases in certain places. problem is, I have never seen a starbase for sale at the Fed yards. Well no… I did see an SBS once, for 12k. This is a starbase with a total weapons loadout of… 3 AMD racks. I sadly passed on it.
Lo and behold: FIGHTER STARBASE! Expensive as hell, 18k or so, but hell, maybe I can actually do something with it. I bid on it. A bit later, I get drafted into a patrol by some Klingon with a 2-word name, starting with W, has a lot of O and R and G sounds, you know, one of those roleplaying Klingonish names. He’s in an F5E, and has 3 E-series escort frigates. I have my BCG, with one drone cruiser.
Mu: "Whoa 3 allies."
W-Something: "Care to run?"
Mu: "Not quite yet."
About 5 minutes later, W-Something is crippled and slow. A pass with phasers eats his warp engines. The AI Klingons are beating up the NCD AI.
W-Something: "Ah, I loved this ship."
Then he self-destructs… and my screen freezes. Oh well, he’ll alt-f4 and it will just be a push, I think. Riiiiight.
I restart, come back, still in the BCG, and here’s my base! Blow more prestige on 16 Raven III’s and the best missiles it can waste (these missions are hard), run over to the hex where I want to drop it, start the mission. Win the mission. I come out…
… and I’M ON A NEARBY PLANET WITH A DAMNED CAI. Heavy cruiser improved??? Yeah, we improved it by removing all drone defense. Where the hell is my base? It’s not where I put it! Wait a second… IT’S ON THE DAMN PLANET TOO!
What happened? I crashed, W-Something saw me blow up, then he hung around in the mission and watched the AI Klingons kill the NCD instead of alt-f4ing. Goodbye BCG. Goodbye rare victory condition we actually have a chance of completing. Goodbye sanity.
Maybe I should have screenshotted a little more, so I could remember people’s names, and always assume they will cheese out somehow, so I have evidence of their treachery. Too bad taking screenshots is bad for the multiplayer game and is also considered cheating.
THERE’S MORE THAN ONE WAY TO MAKE A SHIP MYSTERIOUSLY DISAPPEAR
Well, crap. Fine. I get into another damnable bidding war over a BCG, end up paying about 150% normal price for it, but I get it. I was so pissed off I almost started bidding against myself, just to deter people who didn’t want to way 20,000 prestige for a 6000 prestige ship.
Well, this victory condition was hopeless, why not go back and work on another hopeless cause? Run up to the Klingon front. Flip a planet when nobody is looking, that should last for another half hour or so. Run up to a planet to defend it, wait to be drafted. Get drafted. Mission timer counts down…
… and I’m back at the map, unable to do anything. Fine. Log off, log back on, grab a Patrol, and this is what I see in my MFD panel…
That may be somehow related to the fact that I have no ship. Or it’s invisible and uncontrollable. Maybe it slipped off into that mirror universe where Kirk is evil? I’d much rather be there, because if everything is backwards, then 90% of the players would pay attention to the victory conditions instead of 10%. And maybe "Evil Taldren" would have hired a SQL guy.
I log out, come back. Same thing. I have no ship yet again. I didn’t even get a useless CAI. Maybe I could get drafted by Klingons who wouldn’t see me and get confused? Log out, write my 3rd or 4th letter to the server admins that day (plus 2 letters to Dogmatix), and get ready to come back in. I know there’s yet another BCG in there, which I might be able to win yet another ridiculous bidding war for. I’ll just log in, get the new one, sell the invisible one, and get back to business. Even with massive ship losses, the misplacement of the only starbase I’ve ever seen, a failed victory condition, players who don’t know or care about screwing up everyone else’s game… I’ll just get back into the swing of things, just as soon as I log in…
ONE MORE THING
Last I heard, the much better-organized Klingons (well, except for the ones that made me lose my ship and starbase placement) are kicking ass. Wish there was something I could do about it. Unfortunately, I cannot get onto the bridge of my ghost ship. It’s doomed to wander Canada West without me, occasionally haunting the scanners of passing captains as it patrols space it cannot affect. What will those captains think, seeing my spectral vessel shimmer before their viewscreens? Will it serve as a warning to people to read the damned forums and not be idiots? Will it start a slew of legends about Captain Mu, president pro tem of the Federation, who was finally brought down by bugs and stupid people and lousy network code? Will it open eyes and minds and make the universe a better place for everyone?