The growth of myself as a person and player is remarkably significant in all the years, and all the people, who have changed me to be who I am today.
Specifically in DDO, I think the reasons that I keep playing evolve. I was a lot more clammed up first starting out, but because I had no one, I played for myself. I ran alone, but I was always curious about other people. Social settings have always made me feel anxious, and this was something I never realized before; but I used to worry over every little thing. Out of game, I’d make sure I wouldn’t breathe too loudly or “take up their air space”, and in game, I’d make sure I’d have the proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. I settled for nothing short of perfect, so I was also very afraid to admit mistakes or uncertainties. In order to avoid these, part of this was the reason why I dove right into the game and took it upon myself to learn the game and aim for the upper ranks of it. To play in endgame, at the time, back in 2011-12, and to immerse myself with as many puggers as I could, as they were my links to getting to know the inner circles.
It is kind of strange how now, the people who joined the game then, are the people who I consider my fellow “peers”, as if this game is a profession. I built as big of a network as I could, and kept most of my thoughts and opinions to myself. I can’t say exactly what drew people to me, and me to them, other than running pugs often. And now that the network is more established, I’ve found less and less incentive to pug. Especially for the higher end content where we can’t really afford to carry people.
I think this is where I miss the older days of the game, where Reaper has pushed for people into these tight knit circles again. Elitist attitudes, even among some of my best friends, is rampant. And I have fallen towards that in pursuit of the Reaper experience myself. But I think now, I have a changed perspective of it. Having been reminded of the player that I used to be – full of positivity and acceptance – kind of made me stop in my tracks to think about some of the thoughts I’ve had about others, and to move forward in a new light more reminiscent of my former own.
I used to play because I truly loved this game then. I had mixed feelings in the early days starting out, but I think it’s fair, now, to say that all along, I had been playing this game for both social and mechanical reasons. I played at first because I wanted to earn the respect of others, but I also played because I had never played a game like DDO ever before. As someone who never knew the concept of role play officially and yet growing up with it all along, DDO was the game that fit in perfectly. I grew excited at the idea of an angelic character, and somewhere along the way, I projected myself onto that. Somewhere along the path further down, I wanted to believe I could paint something on this blank slate. Almost 8 years later, I found a place where I felt like I could belong, away from the real world and all of its sickening burdens.
But even the “sweet DDO life of Sera” has its own demons. I’m sure I could go on and on about them, but for the first time I think in all these years, I was really beginning to turn away from DDO. I wonder now if it was still even by choice, since it was more out of fear and anxiety. And that hiccup was all it took for me to snap out of it. I questioned myself, why do you still play if it’s for others? Because of others? I suppose I can never rid of this emotionally apt heart of mine that is always drawn towards the troublesome crux of social harmony. And that if that is not achieved in my circles, it takes a rather huge toll on me.
So slowly, I began to immerse myself with new reasons – not for friends, not even for close friends, but for myself again. To go back to square one. With a bit of balance, I want to maintain what little social life (the real one) I have, and play DDO for the excitement of builds. To nerd out again hardcore like I used to, researching, creating spreadsheets and documents, working on myself as a player and on my characters. I spent this entire year helping others, that I could barely fit in my only goal of attaining Reaper wings.
And thus, I’ve thought about embarking on another TR trip, with Racials at least. I’m not sure if I’m 100% settled on this yet, but it has been a thought. The previous TR project was so grindy and I hated that I couldn’t raid with my friends. But over the course of the past month, taking a moment to stop and actually put forth the effort of running with the other guildies has made me realize that they’re actually fun to be around. The ones I didn’t put in nearly half as much effort and barely got to know. I’ve always wanted to lead by example, so this has been an eye opening experience for me. What touched me was that they said, at least for a particular group of guildies I ran with last night, was that it was because of the fact that I had been reaching out to them and being involved in chatting with them, grouping with them, showing and displaying an effort that they in turn responded back. This really restored my reason and purpose to lead. The thing is, it wasn’t even that much effort on my part – I’ve always ingrained it in me to always greet guildies and be as active as I possibly could for others. And I’m forever thankful for people who do respond back. Sometimes I wonder, is it really as simple as that? What is it about me that I just click better with people? There is a plethora of reasons I’m sure, but hearing about this gave me the warm fuzzies.
In any case, back to the Racials, I think it might be an easier TR project given all the content these days, and the fact that I could just monopolize one set of gear as an easy button Sorcerer or something. I still have to think about it, if I did it might be with a group of guildies, or on my own terms and picking up friends along the way. I’ve always been bad about going in groups because I personally don’t think matching up time zones and schedules is feasible without a lot of effort, and the last thing I want to do is put in more effort for such a hefty project. But I’m reminded of Vie, who is much more casual in nature about running a TR, and I certainly miss her as well as her refreshing attitude. I think my wish, of wanting to run with pugs again, is finally coming true in a way that I would have never expected it before!
It’s nice to be able to put up an LFM again, on that note. I miss the anonymity of it sometimes, being in a group where no one actually knows me. It is also nice when someone somehow does know me and speaks kind words. I’m always so grateful for them, even though I might not know them. It is amazing how some people have elephant memories, but the same could be said of me when it comes to people. First impressions are truly lasting.
That said, I’ve been hitting it off with a lot of new (by new, I mean hidden gems) people around the server. It is astonishing to me at how secluded I was, and am, even now, with these channels and Discord server. And it kind of hurts me to know that people I never got to meet because they quit without ever finding a community. I love meeting new people, mostly online but even in real life as long as I have a chance to observe them and ask many questions about them. Can you imagine how far your network could grow if we were all just in one big server?
I now play for this and many other reasons. I want to continue to meet new people, create new memories, learn more about the game, its players, and myself. I always know that I can improve myself to be better because there will always be someone better than me. In both attitude and skill, I think that is what defines a good player. So I want to strive for that, and revive the old spirit I had for DDO – one that a lot of my older friends whom I’ve pretty much grown up with, would remember.